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Malawi Announces State Funeral and 21 Days of Mourning for Vice President Killed in a Plane Crash

Malawi vice president

The Malawi government announced that Vice President Saulos Chilima, who died in a plane crash along with eight others, will receive a state funeral. President Lazarus Chakwera declared 21 days of national mourning, with flags flying at half-staff. A ministerial committee has been appointed to oversee the preparations, though no date has been set for the funeral. Initially reported as 10, the government confirmed that nine people were on board the crashed plane.

Everyone was killed on impact when the twin propellor 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 killed.

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 a funeral of a former government minister when it went missing Monday morning.

The president said the that 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, when officials and mourners including Chakwera and Chilima’s wife, Mary, gathered at an airport. The bodies of Chilima and the others were transported from the airport in ambulances as soldiers lined the tarmac and saluted.

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