Malawi’s vice-president’s plane may have crashed in forest, army says


A plane carrying Malawi’s vice president may have crashed in a forest in the country’s north, a senior military official said.

Saulos Chilima and nine others were flying within the country on Monday morning when their plane disappeared from airport radars.

The plane, a military aircraft, was flying in bad weather.

Soldiers have searched the Chikangawa Forest in an attempt to find the plane.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Malawi Defense Force commander Paul Valentino Phiri said fog has reduced visibility in the forest, complicating search efforts.

President Lazarus Chakwera has said the mission must continue until the plane is found.

Speaking to Malawians on Monday evening, he said: “I know we are all scared and worried – I am worried too.

“But I want to assure you that I am sparing no resources to find that plane and I cling to every fiber of hope that we will find survivors.”

However, Dr Chilima’s party, the United Transformation Movement (UTM), said it was “disappointed” with the search.

UTM officials claimed that the search began at 3:00 PM local time (2:00 PM GMT), despite the plane going missing at 10:00 AM.

The vice president and president are from different parties, but the two worked together to form an alliance during the 2020 election.

Dr. Chilima, 51, was on his way to represent the government at the funeral of former minister Ralph Kasambara, who died four days ago.

Former First Lady Shanil Dzimbiri was also on the flight, which left the capital Lilongwe on Monday morning.

It was scheduled to land at the airport in the northern city of Mzuzu but was turned back due to poor visibility.

President Chakwera said he had contacted the governments of several countries, including the US, Britain, Norway and Israel, all of which had offered support “in various capacities” to help find the plane.

Dr. Chilima has been vice president of Malawi since 2014.

He is widely loved in Malawi, especially among the youth, reports AFP news agency.

Dr. However, Chilima was arrested and indicted in 2022 on charges that he accepted money in exchange for awarding government contracts.

Last month, the court dropped the charges, without giving any reason for the decision.

Dr. Chilima is married and has two children

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