Malawi's Vice President Saulos Chilima killed in plane crash

Malawi president vows not to end search mission until VP Saulos Chilima's missing plane is found

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AFP
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Web Desk
Malawi's Vice President Saulos Klaus Chilima arrives at a polling station in Lilongwe, Malawi May 21, 2019. — Reuters

Malawi's Vice President Saulos Chilima has been killed in a plane crash along with nine other passengers, President Lazarus Chakwera announced Tuesday, CNN reported.

Chakwera said: "The search and rescue operation I ordered to find the missing plane that carried our vice president and nine others has been completed. 

"The plane has been found. And I am deeply saddened and sorry to inform you that it has turned out to be a terrible tragedy."

Chilima, 51, and nine others including ex-first lady Shanil Dzimbiri, were travelling within the country to attend the burial of former government minister Ralph Kasambara, who died four days ago.

Their military aircraft, which took off from the capital, Lilongwe, disappeared from airport radars in Chikangawa Forest, prompting a search operation to find the plane.

Rescuers had been combing a fog-cloaked forest south of Mzuzu on Tuesday, after authorities located the last tower it transmitted to before the plane disappeared.

Earlier, army commander General Paul Valentino Phiri said other countries, including Malawi´s neighbours, had been aiding the search effort, with support including helicopters and drones.

The group departed just after 9:00am (0700 GMT) from Lilongwe on Monday to attend the funeral of a former cabinet minister some 370 kilometres (230 miles) away in Mzuzu.

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

Chakwera said he had previously flown on the same aircraft for similar trips. The crew had successfully operated it just hours before the accident, he added.

"And yet, despite the track record of the aircraft and the experience of the crew, something terrible went wrong with that aircraft on its flight back to Lilongwe, sending it crashing down," he said.