Malawi finds wreckage of vice president’s plane but no survivors

Debris from the aircraft was found after a day of searching in thick forested mountains.

Malawi’s Vice President Saulos Klaus Chilima did not survive the crash (Reuters)Published On 11 Jun 202411 Jun 2024

Rescue teams in Malawi have found the wreckage of a plane that was carrying Vice President Saulos Chilima but reported that there were no survivors.

The remains of the military plane were located on Tuesday in a mountainous area in the north of the country, a day after it went missing in bad weather.

President Lazarus Chakwera later said in a televised address that none of the 10 people on board – including the 51-year-old Chilima – had survived after the aircraft crashed into a forest.

Seven passengers, including a former first lady, and three military crew members, were on board.

The plane left the capital, Lilongwe, on Monday but failed to make its scheduled landing at Mzuzu international airport about 370km (230 miles) to the north about 45 minutes later.

The president had then ordered national and local authorities to “conduct an immediate search and rescue operation to locate the whereabouts of the aircraft”.

Speaking on Tuesday, the president called the expressed sorrow that the rescuers had found no one alive.

“I’m deeply saddened, I’m sorry to inform you all that it has turn out to be a terrible tragedy. The search and rescue team has found the aircraft  near a hill… they have found it completely destroyed with no survivors,” he said.

Chilima, who serving his second term as vice president after swapping his support from Chakwera’s rival, former president Peter Mutharika, for the election in 2020, was seen as a potential candidate in next year’s presidential election.

That’s despite an arrest in 2022 over allegations of bribery linked to supply contracts for the armed forces and police,

However, a court dropped the charges last month after the director of public prosecutions filed a notice for the case to be discontinued. Chilima has denied wrongdoing. Critics claim that the case shows that Chakwera is not serious about his promises to fight corruption.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies