Malawi’s vice president killed in plane crash along with 9 others

Johannesburg — The Vice President of Malawi, Dr. Saulos Chilima, and 9 other people including his wife, were killed when the plane they were travelling in crashed in the Chikangawa mountain range, the government said Tuesday. President Lazarus Chakwera declared Tuesday a national day of mourning.

The announcement was made Tuesday morning in a statement by the Office of the President and Cabinet, which said, “unfortunately, all on board have perished in the crash,” which happened Monday morning after the military aircraft took off from the country’s capital Lilongwe.

Chilima and the other passengers had been headed to attend the funeral of the country’s former attorney general when their plane dropped off radar. Air traffic officials said the plane had been unable to land at Mzuzu airport, about 200 miles north of the capital, due to poor visibility, and the pilot had been advised to return to Lilongwe when the flight disappeared.

Malawi Vice President Saulos Chilima and his wife Mary disembark from a plane upon their return from South Korea, in Lillongwe, Malawi, in a June 9, 2024 file photo. A military plane carrying the Chilimas and 8 others crashed on June 10, 2024, killing everyone on the aircraft, Malawi’s government said.


Chilima, 51, had been seen in Malawi as a possible contender for next year’s presidential election.

A somewhat controversial figure, he’d been arrested in 2022 on graft allegations, amid reports that he’d received kickbacks 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.

In a televised national address Monday night, Chawera told the nation that the search and rescue operation would continue until Chilima’s plane was found.

“I know this is a heart breaking situation,” he said, “and we are all frightened and concerned.”

Several countries including the United States provided technological support in the search operation. 

In a statement posted Tuesday morning on social media, the U.S. Embassy in Lilongwe said it was “deeply concerned by the news of the crash” and added an offer of “all available assistance including a Defense  C-12 aircraft.”

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