Thursday, July 18, 2024

Malawi Pres. Chakwera Clings to “Every Fibre of Hope” as Search for Veep Chilima’s Plane Continues


Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera addressed the nation regarding the disappearance of the aircraft carrying Vice President Saulos Chilima from Lilongwe to Mzuzu earlier this morning.

President Chakwera told the nation that “At 7:05am this morning, a Malawi Defence Force Aircraft Number MAF TO3 left Mzuzu Airfield and landed at Kamuzu International Airport at 7:48am to carry the Honourable Vice President to Mzuzu to attend the funeral of Former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, late Honourable Ralph Kasambara. Then at 9:17am, the aircraft departed Kamuzu International Airport with the Vice President and nine other individuals on board, including Mr. Lukas Kapheni, Mr. Chisomo Chimaneni, Ms. Gloria Mtukule, Ms. Shanil Dzimbiri, Mr. Dan Kanyemba, Mr. Abdul Lapukeni, as well as Colonel Sambalopa, Major Selemani, and Major Aidin, who were the MDF officers operating the aircraft.

“However, upon arrival in Mzuzu, the pilot was unable to land the plane due to poor visibility occasioned by bad weather, and Aviation Authorities advised the aircraft to return to Lilongwe, but the authorities soon lost contact with the aircraft.

The President continued:

“The MDF Commander contacted me immediately and I ordered him to effect a search and rescue operation and to give me a report within four hours. That report was given to me at 3pm, and by that time it had been established using signals from telecommunication towers in the area that the plane was located somewhere within a 10km radius of Raiply, which has since become the area of focus for the MDF search and rescue operation. I know that some media outlets have reported that the search and rescue operation has been suspended, but this is false. MDF soldiers are still on the ground carrying out the search and I have given strict orders that the operation should continue until the plane is found. I have also directed the MDF officials who are overseeing the operation to give you all regular updates on how the operation is going so that we can all be informed about the progress of establishing what happened to our loved ones, our colleagues, and our fellow compatriots who were on board that flight.

The President noted that this was a heart-breaking situation.

“I know that we are all frightened and concerned. I too am concerned. But I want to assure you that I am sparing no available resource to find that plane, and I am holding on to every fibre of hope that we will find survivors. We have already contacted our neighbouring countries, as well as development partners, including the US Government, the British Government, the Norwegian Government, and the Israeli Government, who have all offered support in different forms, including the use of specialized technologies that will enhance our capacity to find the plane sooner, and I am most grateful for this support. But come what may, I assure you that God is with us and will see us through this dark tunnel, especially if we stick together and help each other,” he said.




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