Malawi’s VP And 9 Others Are Confirmed Dead After Discovery Of Plane Debris

Former Malawi Vice President, Saulos Klaus Chilima (2nd L), who is now president for the United Transformation Movement (UTM) Party and who is the first petitioner in the Malawi Elecions Case, is accompanied by his wife Mary Chilima (R), waits to be screened at the Lilongwe High Court, where constitutional court judges will preside over the ruling on whether to annul the controversial vote that saw Malawi President Peter Mutharika re-elected in the May 2019 election, in Lilongwe on February 3, 2020. (Photo by AMOS GUMULIRA / AFP) (Photo by AMOS GUMULIRA/AFP via Getty Images)
Former Malawi Vice President, Saulos Klaus Chilima (2nd L), who is now president for the United Transformation Movement (UTM) Party and who is the first petitioner in the Malawi Elecions Case, is accompanied by his wife Mary Chilima (R), waits to be screened at the Lilongwe High Court, where constitutional court judges will preside over the ruling on whether to annul the controversial vote that saw Malawi President Peter Mutharika re-elected in the May 2019 election, in Lilongwe on February 3, 2020. (Photo by AMOS GUMULIRA/AFP via Getty Images)

OAN’s James Meyers
10:09 AM – Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Saulos Chilima, the vice president of Malawi, and nine others died after a military plane they were flying in crashed due to “harsh weather conditions,” the president announced on Tuesday. Chilimia was 51-years-old. 

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President Lazarus Chakwera announced the news in a live address on state television, explaining that the plane wreckage had been located after an extensive search in thick forests and hilly terrain near the northern city of Mzuzu. 

Chakwera went on to say that he was informed by the head of Malawi’s armed forces that the plane had finally been found and that he was “deeply saddened and sorry to inform you all that it has turned out to be a terrible tragedy.”

“Words cannot describe how heartbreaking this is and I can only imagine how much pain and anguish you all must be feeling at this time, as well as how much pain and anguish you all will be feeling in the coming days and weeks as we mourn this terrible loss,” Chakwera said.

The trip was scheduled to last less than an hour, but “contact was suddenly lost,” prompting a search operation. 

“The army commander informed me the wreckage was found on one of the hills of Chikangawa Forest,” Chakwera said. “Everyone in the plane perished. All passengers on board died on the impact of the crash.”

Chilima and others had been flying in a 37-year-old Malawi Defence Force Dornier 228 turboprop aircraft, according to information obtained from a tracking website. 

Chilima was an economist and former telecommunications executive who entered politics in 2014. He became the country’s youngest vice president later that year after then-President Peter Mutharika picked him as his running mate. 

Additionally, he was a candidate in the 2019 Malawian presidential election and finished third behind the incumbents Mutharika and Chakwera. However, the vote was eventually annulled by Malawi’s Constitutional Court due to voting “irregularities.”

After the courts overturned the results of the vote, Chilima teamed up with Chakwera and formed the Tonse Alliance. They won elections in 2020, which led to him becoming the vice president. 

Chilima was also named in a corruption probe in June 2022. He and a dozen other officials were said to be linked to a UK-based Malawian who was alleged to have paid bribes to win state contracts worth over $150 million. 

Five months later, Chilimia was arrested and charged with multiple offenses, including receiving a $280,000 bribe. However, he denied all wrongdoing and the case was dropped earlier this year. 

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