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No Survivors: Malawi Vice President and Delegates Perish in Crash

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Yoon Suk Yeol, the President of South Korea, and First Lady Kim Keon Hee greet Saulos Klaus Chilima, the Vice President of Malawi, and his wife Mary, ahead of the welcome banquet for the 2024 Korea-Africa Summit held at Shilla Hotel in Jung-gu, Seoul, on March 3. / Provided by the Presidential Office
Han Deok Soo, Korean Prime Minister, meets with Malawi’s Vice President Saulos Klaus Chilima at the Government Complex in Jongno-gu, Seoul, on March 5. / Provided by the Prime Minister’s Office

Saulos Klaus Chilima, the Vice President of Malawi, died in a plane crash just two days after leaving South Korea.

Lazarus Chakwera, Malawi’s President, announced on the 11th that the military aircraft carrying Chilima and nine others crashed, resulting in the death of all passengers.

The crashed military aircraft, carrying a total of 10 people, including Chilima, took off from Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, at 9:17 a.m. the previous day. It was to attend the funeral of former Malawi Attorney General Ralph Kasambara. It was scheduled to arrive at Mzuzu International Airport, about 230 miles away, about 45 minutes after takeoff, but suddenly disappeared.

The military aircraft could not land due to poor visibility caused by worsening weather conditions. The pilot received instructions to return, but the plane disappeared from the air traffic control tower radar within minutes, and all communication was cut off.

The Malawi central government, local agencies, military, and police conducted a search and rescue operation and found the bodies of Chilima and others, as well as the wreckage of the military aircraft, within a day.

Chilima visited South Korea on June 4th and 5th to attend the South Korea-Africa Summit. He met with President Yoon Suk Yeol and Prime Minister Han Deok Soo and left on the 9th. He died just two days after leaving Korea.

In a speech broadcast live on state TV, Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera said, “There were no survivors in the military plane crash carrying Chilima and others,” and added, “I express deep sorrow and regret that the incident ended in a terrible tragedy.”

Chilima joined the campaign as Chakwera’s running mate for the 2020 presidential reelection and became Vice President after Chakwera was elected. He was expected to run in the presidential election next year.

Malawi is a landlocked country located in southeastern Africa. It borders Zambia to the west, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique to the east and south. The country is relatively small, with a land area of about 118,484㎢.

Malawi, well known as the warm heart of Africa, boasts beautiful natural landscapes. In particular, Lake Malawi is considered the jewel of the country. It is the third-largest freshwater lake in Africa, about 360 miles long, and is known for its clear blue water and diverse aquatic life. Lake Malawi National Park is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It offers a variety of water leisure activities, such as diving, snorkeling, and fishing.

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