Chilima, Raisi, and the curious case of state leaders dying in plane crashes

on Jun 11, 2024
  • Malawi's VP Chilima’s plane crash follows after the death of Iran’s President Raisi in a chopper crash.
  • Chilima’s plane went missing Monday morning and was found Tuesday in a mountainous area.
  • The incident adds to the list of historical plane crashes involving world leaders.

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Malawi’s Vice President Saulos Chilima was killed in a plane crash on Tuesday, the country’s President Lazarus Chakwera informed the media.

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Chilima’s death in a plane crash comes less than a month after Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi was killed in a helicopter crash on May 19, which also claimed the life of the country’s foreign minister.

What happened in the Chilima crash?

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The plane carrying Chilima first went missing on Monday morning on its way from Lilongwe to the city of Mzuzu, 370 kilometers north.

After search operations lasting more than a day, the crashed plane was discovered in a mountainous area in the northern part of the country.

A history of leaders lost to plane crashes

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Chilima and Raisi are not the only state leaders to have lost their lives in plane crashes, with history recording an alarming number of world leaders succumbing to airborne accidents.

In 2010, the President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, died in a plane crash near Smolensk, Russia, along with several high-ranking officials.

Ramon Magsaysay, a former president of the Philippines known for his anti-communist policies and dedication to democracy, died in a crash on Mount Manunggal in Cebu in 1957. He is immortalized by the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award.

General Zia ul Haq, the sixth president of Pakistan and one of the country’s most dictatorial military leaders, died in 1988 near Bahawalpur in Pakistan. The cause of the crash remains shrouded in mystery.

Samora Machel, the president of Mozambique, died in a plane crash near the Mozambican-South African border.

Questions were raised about why South African air traffic control did not warn the pilot about being off-course and in danger of entering South African airspace.

The President of Rwanda, Juvenal Habyarimana, and the President of Burundi, Cyprien Ntaryamira, both died in 1994 when their plane was shot down as it was about to land in Kigali, Rwanda.

This incident is believed to have ignited the genocide against the Tutsi by Hutu extremists, which eventually led to the killing of about 800,000 Rwandans.

Questions arise on suspicious crashes

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The death of Vice President Saulos Chilima in a plane crash adds to the tragic history of airborne accidents involving world leaders. These incidents highlight the vulnerability and risks associated with air travel for high-profile individuals.

As Malawi mourns the loss of its vice president, the world is reminded of the delicate balance of safety and leadership in the skies.

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