Malawi's vice president Saulos Chilima killed in plane crash

Former first lady Shanil Dzimbri also aboard military plane that crashed into hillside

Malawi's vice president Saulos Chilima was aboard a plane with nine others. AP
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A plane which crashed with Malawi's vice president Saulos Chilima on-board has been found with no survivors, President Lazarus Chakwera has said.

A search and rescue operation was launched after the plane, carrying nine others, went missing during a short flight from the capital of Lilongwe to Mzuzu airport in the north.

Mr Chakwera confirmed their deaths in a national address on Tuesday afternoon, saying no one survived.

“The plane has been found, and I am deeply saddened and sorry to inform you all, it has turned out to be a terrible tragedy,” he said.

Malawi's former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri was also reportedly on-board.

Pictures of the crash site showed the debris of a military plane scattered across a fog-covered hillside, where about 600 police officers, soldiers and forest rangers searched for the wreckage.

Neighbouring countries helped Malawi in an extensive search, which was made “extremely difficult” by the hilly and forested terrain, according to officials.

The US, Britain, Norway and Israel also offered assistance and provided “specialised technologies” that the President hoped would help find the plane sooner.

The plane left Lilongwe at 9.17am local time and was scheduled to arrive in Mzuzu 45 minutes later.

Air-traffic controllers told the pilots not to attempt a landing at Mzuzu due to bad weather and poor visibility and asked it to turn back to Lilongwe, Mr Chakwera said on Monday night.

Air traffic control then lost contact with the aircraft which disappeared from radar.

The group were travelling for the funeral of Ralph Kasambara, a prominent lawyer and former justice minister.

Their deaths come just weeks after Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and several others died in a helicopter crash in poor weather.

Updated: June 11, 2024, 11:32 AM