Malawi vice president Saulos Chilima, as well as the country’s former first lady, were found dead after the military plane they were aboard crashed in the mountains

A plane carrying the vice president of Malawi and nine others was found “completely destroyed” with no survivors, it has been confirmed.

Soldiers launched a massive search and rescue operation in the mountainous forests near a city in northern Malawi when the military aircraft vanished from radar. The remains of the plane were eventually tracked down after a day’s search by the Malawi Defence Force, who confirmed all aboard were killed when it came down in Chikangawa Forest. It was described by teams as “completely destroyed”.

Among those on the plane were the country’s vice president, Saulos Chilima, as well as former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri and eight others. The news was confirmed by Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera, who said he was “deeply saddened”.

The plane had left Lilongwe, at around 9am on Monday for a 230 mile journey north to the Mzuzu International Airport. The president had earlier explained how air traffic control had told the pilots to turn around because of bad weather and poor visibility in the area.

When it was lost from radar a huge search operation was launched, with help offered from the UK, USA, Norway and Israel.The President earlied said: “I know this is a heartbreaking situation. I know we are all frightened and concerned. I too am concerned

“But I want to assure you that I am sparing no available resources to find that plane. And I am holding onto every fibre of hope we will find survivors.”

The passengers on board the plane had been travelling to a funeral of the country’s former attorney general. Three of those aboard were the crew from the military flying it.

One person said on social media: “My Vice President. Your Honour Sir. Am shaken within my entire core. Am praying hard. Lord have mercy on us.”

In an earlier press release, the President’s press office wrote: “The Malawi Defense Force Aircraft which left Lilongwe carrying the Vice President, the Right Honourable Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima, and nine others, failed to make its scheduled landing at Mzuzu International Airport at 10:02.

“All efforts by aviation authorities to make contact with the Aircraft since it went off the radar have failed thus far, As such, the Commander of the Malawi Defense Force, General Valentino Phiri, has since informed His Excellency Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera of the incident and the President has since cancelled his scheduled departure for the Bahamas and ordered all regional and national agencies to conduct an immediate search and rescue operation to locate the whereabouts of the aircraft.”

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