World News

Malawian army official suspects VP’s plane possibly crashed in forest

A plane carrying Malawi’s Vice President Saulos Chilima may have crashed in a forest in the north of the country, a senior military official said, after it went off the radar on Monday morning, BBC reported.

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.

In press briefing on Tuesday, Malawi Defence Force commander Paul Valentino Phiri said that reduced visibility in the forest due to the fog has complicated search efforts.

Dr. Saulos Chilima

In any case, President Lazarus Chakwera has said the mission must proceed until the plane is found and that he is “holding onto every fibre of hope that we will find survivors.”

However, Chilima’s party, the United Transformation Movement (UTM), said they were “disappointed” with the search operation as they alleged that the search started at 15:00 local time (14:00 GMT) despite the plane going missing at 10:00.

The flight was meant to land at the airport in Mzuzu, but was turned back because of poor visibility.

President Chakwera has contacted the governments of various countries, including the US, UK, Norway and Israel, who had all offered support “in different capacities” to help find the plane.

Chilima has been vice-president of Malawi since 2014. He is married with two children and is widely loved in the country, particularly among the youth, according to AFP.

Last month, charges against Chilima, alleging that he accepted money in exchange for awarding government contracts, were dropped by the court, without giving reasons for the decision.

Source: BBC

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