gtag('config', 'UA-12595121-1'); Malawi announces state funeral and 21 days of mourning for vice president killed in a plane crash – The Zimbabwe Mail

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

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LILONGWE, Malawi – The Malawi government announced Wednesday that Vice President Saulos Chilima will be honored with a state funeral following his death in a plane crash that also claimed the lives of eight others.

President Lazarus Chakwera had previously declared 21 days of national mourning starting Tuesday, after the wreckage of the small military plane carrying Chilima and former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri was discovered in a mountainous area in the country’s north. During this mourning period, flags will fly at half-staff across the nation.

In a statement, the government revealed that President Chakwera has appointed a ministerial committee to oversee preparations for Chilima’s state funeral. However, no date has been set for the funeral.

Malawi Vice President Plane Crash

Initially, President Chakwera mentioned that there were 10 people on the plane, but the government has now clarified that there were nine individuals on board at the time of the crash. All nine were killed on impact when the twin-propeller aircraft went down in a hilly, forested area during bad weather. The victims included former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri, the ex-wife of former Malawian President Bakili Muluzi, six passengers, and three military crew members.

The plane was carrying Chilima and members of his staff on a short flight from the capital, Lilongwe, to the northern city of Mzuzu to attend the funeral of a former government minister when it went missing Monday morning. Air traffic controllers had advised the plane not to land in Mzuzu due to bad weather and poor visibility, instructing it to return to Lilongwe. The plane then lost contact with air traffic control and disappeared from radar.

A massive search operation involving hundreds of soldiers, police officers, and forest rangers was launched and continued for over 24 hours before the wreckage was discovered in a forest plantation south of Mzuzu.

On Tuesday night, the remains of the victims were brought back to Lilongwe on a Zambian Air Force helicopter. Officials and mourners, including President Chakwera and Chilima’s wife, Mary, gathered at the airport to pay their respects. The bodies were then transported from the airport in ambulances as soldiers lined the tarmac and saluted.