Malawi Vice President Dr. Saulos Chilima Dies in Tragic Plane Crash

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Written By Lori Walker

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Malawi’s Vice President Dr. Saulos Chilima and nine others, including his wife, died in a plane crash in the Chikangawa mountain range, the government announced on Tuesday. President Lazarus Chakwera declared a national day of mourning.

“Sadly, everyone on board died in the crash,” the Office of the President and Cabinet said in a statement Tuesday morning. This confirmation followed a day-long search in a forested area in northern Malawi. The military plane crashed Monday morning after taking off from the capital, Lilongwe.

Chilima, 51, and the others were on their way to the funeral of a former attorney general when their plane lost contact with air traffic control. Officials said the plane couldn’t land at Mzuzu airport, about 200 miles north of the capital, due to poor visibility. The pilot was told to return to Lilongwe when the plane disappeared from radar.

In a national address on Tuesday, Chakwera said Chilima, his wife, seven military officers, and another passenger were on a small military plane, identified as a Dornier 228, delivered to the Malawian army in 1988. The Associated Press confirmed this by checking the plane’s tail number with the ch-aviation website.

Chilima, 51, was seen as a potential candidate for next year’s presidential election. He had been a controversial figure, arrested in 2022 on corruption charges, accused of taking kickbacks for government contracts. He always denied the charges, which were dropped last month by the national prosecutor.

In a televised address Monday night, Chakwera said the search for the plane would continue until it was found. “This is a heartbreaking situation,” he said. “We are all frightened and concerned.”

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