Saulos Chilima speaking at Compact2025 event in 2015. Source: Flickr

Saulos Chilima, Malawi Vice President, Among 9 Killed in Plane Crash

Vice President Saulos Chilima dies in a plane crash in Malawi after an aircraft goes down in the mountain region near Mzuzu city.

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The nation of Malawi is reeling from a devastating plane crash that claimed the lives of Vice President Saulos Chilima and nine others on Tuesday. The small military aircraft crashed in the mountainous northern region near Mzuzu city, where its wreckage was discovered after a day of intensive search. 

President Lazarus Chakwera delivered the grim news in a televised address to the nation. “It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you of this terrible tragedy,” he said. “The plane has been located, completely destroyed upon impact. There were no survivors.”

One of Malawi’s most prominent leaders met an untimely end while carrying out his duties to the nation. He was on his way to pay his respects at the funeral of a former attorney general in Mzuzu. The plane originally went missing early Monday morning, shortly after taking off from the capital city of Lilongwe. The plane could not land in Mzuzu due to low visibility and was told to turn back to the capital, where it subsequently crashed.

An overnight search commenced, with nearly 200 soldiers searching the dense Chikangawa forest, where the wreckage was located on Tuesday. The precise cause of the crash remains unclear, though poor weather conditions over the rough terrain are suspected to have played a role.

Chilima speaking at the African Land Forces Summit in 2017. Source: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Paige Behringer / Flickr

Chilima was 51 years old. Chakwera described him as “a good man, a devoted family man, and a patriot who served Malawi with distinction.” After these kind words, the president called for a moment of silence to mourn the Vice President and the eight other passengers. Three military crew members and former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri, also perished in the crash. 

Chilima was preparing for a presidential run in 2025, after a decade of work in politics after a successful business career. After a public falling out with former president Peter Mutharika, Chilima founded his own United Transformation party. He then ran in the 2020 election with now President Chakwera, whom they have both served for the last four years. 

As efforts transition to recovering the remains of the crash site today, the nation is stunned by this devastating loss. In the coming days, Malawi will undoubtedly pay tribute by celebrating Chilima’s life as it lays to rest the Vice President and nine others who passed alongside him. Chilima leaves behind his wife Mary, and two children, Sean and Elizabeth. 

Written by Mia Boykin

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