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JUST IN: Malawi’s vice president, wife, 8 others die in plane crash

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Malawi’s Vice President Dr. Saulos Chilima and 9 other people including his wife were feared killed when the plane they were travelling in crashed in the Chikangawa mountain range, the government said Tuesday.

President Lazarus Chakwera on Tuesday declared a national day of mourning.

“Unfortunately, all on board have perished in the crash,” the Office of the President and Cabinet said in a Tuesday morning statement.

The confirmation came after more than a day-long search effort in a forested area in the mountains of northern Malawi.

The military plane, which was carrying the 51-year-old Vice President along with other passengers, disappeared after failing to land in the northern city of Mzuzu due to poor visibility.

The aircraft was instructed to return to the capital, Lilongwe, but unfortunately, it crashed with no survivors found among the wreckage.

Photographs provided by a member of the military rescue team to AFP show army personnel on a foggy slope near debris identified as the Malawi Army Air Wing Dornier 228-202K aircraft. The discovery has left the nation in mourning.

The plane departed from Lilongwe around 9:00am local time (0700 GMT) on Monday, heading to Mzuzu to attend the funeral of a former cabinet minister, a journey of approximately 370 kilometers (230 miles). Among the passengers was also Malawi’s former first lady, Shanil Dzimbiri.

Before now, Mr Chilima had been seen in Malawi as a possible contender for next year’s presidential election.

He was arrested in 2022 on graft allegations, amid reports that he received bribe from a businessman for government contracts.

Chilima consistently denied the charges, right up until last month, when they were dropped by the national prosecutor, who filed a notice for the discontinuation of the case.

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