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Saulos Chilima (OSV News/Eldson Chagara, Reuters)

Catholic bishops in Malawi have mourned the loss of the country’s Catholic vice president who died in a plane crash on Monday. Source: NCR Online.

Saulos Chilima, 51, died alongside nine others, including the former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri, aboard a military aircraft.

The search and rescue teams found the wreckage of the plane on Tuesday, near a hill in the Chikangawa Forest in the north of the country, a day after it went missing.

“The Catholic Bishops of Malawi have learnt with great shock and deep sorrow about the tragic plane crash that claimed the precious lives of … the Vice President … and nine other Malawians,” said Archbishop George Desmond Tambala of Lilongwe, president of the Malawi bishops conference.

“At their death, our hearts are torn, wounded and the nation mourns … May the almighty God grant strength to their families as we mourn them,” Archbishop Tambala wrote.

The bishops expressed their condolences to the president of Malawi, the families of those lost and the country.

Mr Chilima was flying to attend a funeral of a former justice minister, but his plane could not land at Mzuzu Airport – about 360 kilometres north of the capital, Lilongwe – as scheduled due to bad weather. Aviation authorities then ordered the aircraft to return to Lilongwe, but moments later it went off the radar.

Archbishop Tambala said Mr Chilima and his wife were practicing and dedicated Catholics, and hailed from families built and grounded on the Catholic faith, ethos and values.

The archbishop called on Catholic churches across the country to pray for “the restful repose” of the souls of the vice president and other victims of the crash at Sunday Masses this weekend.


Malawi bishops mourn nation’s Catholic vice president after he and 9 others die in plane crash (By Fredrick Nzwili, OSV News via NCR Online)