Malawi Vice President missing plane: day two and what we know so far

Saulos Chillima

Officers of the Malawi Defence Forces have spent the night combing through the thick of Chikangawa Forest to locate the plane carrying Vice President Saulos Chilima. As of this morning, the plane is yet to be found. While rescue efforts are ongoing, the chances of finding survivors on the ill-fated flight are going slimmer.

What we know so far

What is known so far is that the plane was supposed to land in the Northern Region capital of Mzuzu. From there, Chilima was to take the over one hour long trip to Nkhata Bay for the burial of former Attorney General, Ralph Kasambara. Chilima had just returned from South Korea where he attended the Korea-Africa summit on delegation from President Chakwera.

According to reports, Chilima took the plane because he wanted to be back in Lilongwe by 5 to see off President Chakwera who was to depart Malawi for The Bahamas and Switzerland respectively. However, at about 10:50, the ground crew made contact with the plane informing them that it would be impossible to land because of bad weather in Mzuzu. The crew was advised to return to base.

That was the last contact that the plane made contact with the ground crew.

Last night President Chakwera reported to the Malawi nation that when he was informed of the plane’s disappearance from radar, he ordered the Malawi Defence Forces to conduct investigations and furnish him with a report. After he was formally briefed, he instructed the Defence Forces and other aviation authorities to go on search and rescue mission. He also pleaded for help from neighbours.

However, as of this time, there are no reports of any sightings of the plane. All leads taken in the night have led to nothing. It is said that there are 10 people on the plane including the Vice President and former first lady Patricia Shanil Muluzi. Chilima’s wife, Mary, who was earlier reported to be among the passengers was later established to have missed the trip.

As of now, various teams have been assembled to help in the search and rescue mission although sources have disclosed that the rescue chances are slim. Among teams that will be joining is a drone team from the Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) who started off late at night from Thyolo. It has also been reported that the US government has dispatched a search team from one of its African bases.

The search area

Chikangawa Forest is a an over 50,000 hectare filled with trees, vegetation and wild animals. Such a size would roughly be of 100,000 football pitches, making the area wide and complex. This is the area in which it is feared that the train crashed.

The forest was established in 1964 in which it was planted with exotic pines. It is one of the largest man-made forests in Africa. Its vast size as well as the wet weather that the country is experiencing has so far made the search efforts hard. This was mostly true for the night of Monday when it was reported that the Defence Forces were abandoning the search efforts.

Earlier in the day, local media such as Zodiak had reported that locals had seen an aeroplane falling in the area of the forest but the leads did not materialise.

Expected outcomes for day 2

Considering the teams on the ground, it is expected that the plane will be found. It is, however, feared that due to the slow response then the people on the plane might not be found arrive. Mzimba district hospital which is close to the search area has already been placed on high alert. The alert was reported ahead of the search last night.

Meanwhile, various Malawians are still hoping and praying for better outcomes from the search and rescue efforts. They have also sent various messages, including offering prayers.

Malawi24 will keep you updated.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.