Malawi’s vice president and nine others were killed in a plane crash, Lazarus Chakwera the country’s president said Tuesday.

The tragic incident occurred on June 10, 2024, when the plane went missing in a mountainous area during bad weather conditions.

The plane carrying 51-year-old Vice President Saulos Chilima and former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri went missing Monday morning while making the 45-minute flight from the country’s capital, Lilongwe, to the city of Mzuzu, around 370 kilometers (230 miles) to the north.

Air traffic controllers told the plane not to attempt a landing at Mzuzu’s airport because of bad weather and poor visibility and asked it to turn back to Lilongwe, President Chakwera said.

Air traffic control then lost contact with the aircraft and it disappeared from radar, he said.

The wreckage of the military plane carrying Vice President Saulos Chilima was located in a mountainous area in the north of the country after a search that lasted more than a day.

There were no survivors of the crash, Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera said in a televised address to the nation.

Chilima was serving his second term as vice president. He was also in the role from 2014-2019 under former President Peter Mutharika.

He was a candidate in the 2019 Malawian presidential election and finished third, behind the incumbent, Mutharika, and Chakwera.

The vote was later annulled by Malawi’s Constitutional Court because of irregularities

Chilima then joined Chakwera’s campaign as his running mate in a historic election rerun in 2020, when Chakwera was elected president.

It was the first time in Africa that an election result that was overturned by a court resulted in a defeat for the sitting president.

Chilima, 51, was a prominent figure in Malawian politics and had been serving as Vice President since 2020.

The late vice president had previously been facing corruption charges over allegations that he received money in return for influencing the awarding of government procurement contracts for the Malawi armed forces and the police, but prosecutors dropped the charges last month.

He had denied the allegations, but the case led to criticism that Chakwera’s administration was not taking a hard enough stance against graft.

Born on February 12, 1973, in Ntcheu, Malawi, Chilima hailed from a humble background.

He pursued his primary education at Ntcheu Primary School and secondary education at Kamuzu Academy.

The VP later earned a degree in economics from the University of Malawi and a master’s degree in development economics from the University of East Anglia in the UK.

Chilima is survived by his wife, Mary Chilima, and their three children, Yamikani, Takondwa, and Chisomo.

His family, friends, and the nation of Malawi mourn the loss of a dedicated leader and public servant.

In a statement, President Lazarus Chakwera said, “Saulos Chilima was a true patriot and a dedicated servant of the people.

His passing is a tremendous loss to our nation. We will miss his wisdom, his energy, and his unwavering commitment to our country’s progress.”

The group was traveling to attend the funeral of a former government minister. Chilima had just returned from an official visit to South Korea on Sunday.

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