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Malawi Vice-President's Plane Suspected to Have Crashed in Forest; Search Efforts Hindered by Fog

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Ayize claire

Jun 11, 2024

Foggy conditions complicate search for Vice-President Saulos Chilima's plane as President Chakwera pledges exhaustive rescue efforts.

A plane carrying Malawi's Vice-President Saulos Chilima may have crashed in a forest in the north of the country, according to a senior military official. Chilima and nine others were flying on Monday morning when their aircraft disappeared from airport radars.

The military aircraft was flying in bad weather, complicating search efforts. Soldiers have been searching Chikangawa Forest, but fog has reduced visibility, Malawi Defence Force commander Paul Valentino Phiri said during a press briefing on Tuesday.

President Lazarus Chakwera has emphasized that the mission to find the plane must continue. In an address on Monday evening, he assured Malawians that no resources would be spared in the search and expressed hope that survivors would be found. However, Chilima's party, the United Transformation Movement (UTM), expressed disappointment with the search operation, alleging that it started several hours after the plane went missing.

The vice-president and president come from different parties but formed an alliance during the 2020 elections. Chilima, 51, was en route to represent the government at the burial of former government minister Ralph Kasambara. Former First Lady Shanil Dzimbiri was also on the flight, which took off from the capital, Lilongwe, on Monday morning.

The plane was supposed to land in Mzuzu but was turned back due to poor visibility.

President Chakwera has reached out to various countries, including the US, UK, Norway, and Israel, for support in the search operation. Chilima, who has been vice-president since 2014, is particularly popular among Malawian youth.

He was arrested and charged in 2022 on allegations of accepting money for awarding government contracts, but the charges were dropped last month without explanation. Chilima is married with two children.

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