Wreckage of missing Malawi VP’s plane found with no survivors, says Military

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Search teams in Malawi have located the wreckage of a plane carrying Vice President Saulos Chilima, a military source reported on Tuesday, following the aircraft’s disappearance in bad weather the previous day.

The military plane, which was carrying Chilima, 51, along with nine others, went missing on Monday after being unable to land in Mzuzu due to poor visibility. It was instructed to return to Lilongwe, the capital, but tragically, there were no survivors found among the wreckage.

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Photographs shared with AFP by a member of the military rescue team show army personnel standing on a foggy slope near debris identified as the Malawi Army Air Wing Dornier 228-202K aircraft by its registration number.

President Lazarus Chakwera was expected to address the nation. Details on whether there were any survivors were initially unclear.

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On Tuesday, rescuers were combing through a fog-shrouded forest south of Mzuzu, the location of the last transmission tower the plane contacted before it vanished.

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Earlier, Army Commander General Paul Valentino Phiri mentioned that neighboring countries were assisting in the search effort, providing support with helicopters and drones.

The plane had departed from Lilongwe shortly after 9:00 am (0700 GMT) on Monday, en route to attend the funeral of a former cabinet minister 370 kilometers (230 miles) away in Mzuzu. Malawi’s former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri was also among those on board.

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Vice President Saulos Chilima, first elected in 2014, is a charismatic figure widely loved in Malawi, especially among young people. However, in 2022, during his second term, he was stripped of his powers following his arrest on graft charges related to a bribery scandal involving a British-Malawian businessman. The charges were dropped last month, and he had resumed his official duties.

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