Malawi announces state funeral and 21 days of mourning for vice president killed in a plane crash

BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) — The Malawi government said Wednesday that Vice President Saulos Chilima will be honored with a state funeral after he died in a plane crash along with eight other people.

President Lazarus Chakwera announced 21 days of national mourning on Tuesday, when the wreckage of the small military plane carrying Chilima and a former first lady was discovered in a mountainous area in the country’s north.

Chilima was 51 and had been vice president since 2014, having served a first term in the role under former President Peter Mutharika.

Chakwera previously said there were 10 people on the plane, but the government now says nine were on board.

Everyone was killed on impact when the twin-propeller aircraft went down in a hilly, forested area in bad weather, the president said. The victims included former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri, the ex-wife of former Malawian President Bakili Muluzi. Six passengers and three military crew members were on board.

The plane was on a short flight from the capital, Lilongwe, to the northern city of Mzuzu for a funeral of a former government minister when it went missing Monday morning. The president said air traffic controllers had told the plane not to land in Mzuzu because of bad weather and poor visibility and to return to Lilongwe. Air traffic controllers then lost contact with the plane and it disappeared from radar.

Hundreds of soldiers, police officers and forest rangers searched for more than 24 hours before the wreckage was discovered in a forest plantation south of Mzuzu.

The remains of the victims were brought back to Lilongwe on a Zambian Air Force helicopter on Tuesday night.


AP Africa news:

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