Geez, maybe I missed this earlier, but I just found out that my beloved
Air Malawi Cessna Caravan crashed on takeoff in Mzuzu a couple of weeks
ago. On top of that, our old friend Chihana was on board. Oh, black days....
Chihana in plane crash
by Francis Tayanjah-Phiri,Francis Tayanjah-Phiri, 29 December 2003 - 09:26:57
A plane carrying Second Vice President Chakufwa Chihana and seven other
passengers crashed as it taxied for take-off at Mzuzu Airport in the North,
swerving into the Mzuzu-Karonga road where it hit a minibus and killed a
Chihana, looked very shaken but unhurt, while his wife Christine, sustained
two fractures on the jaw. His Aide de Camp (ADC), Superintendent Wisdom
Bengo, sustained a neck injury.
?God is great, that was terrible, praise him we are saved,? said Chihana,
in the treatment room at Mzuzu Central Hospital, while his wife was being
treated. He complained of body pains.
The Air Malawi plane, a Cessna 208 number 7QYKU named Soche, with eight
passengers and a pilot on board, started taxiing to the northern tip of
the airport at 7:10 AM for take off.
About 20 metres from take off position, the pilot, Captain Abraham Mangwana,
could not control it. It left the runway and proceeded to the nearby Mzuzu-Karonga
road, where it collided with a minibus heading to town.
Its propeller smashed the entire front of the minibus, cutting limbs of
a passenger, Sam Shaibu Mapila, a senior biology lecturer at Mzuzu University.
Civil Aviation fire brigade rushed to the scene and prevented a possible
fire from the plane.
Eyewitnesses, including women who were escorting Chihana at the airport,
said they noted some jerking of the plane immediately after it started taxiing.
One of the passengers on the plane, Father Richard Loerhrlein of Chaminade
in Karonga, said he noted the plane had problems when the pilot increased
speed to take off.
Apart from Father Loerhrlein, Brother Raphael Tembo (also of Chaminade)
Chihana?s wife and ADC, the other passengers were treated for minor disorders
like body pains.
?Notable among these victims were Mrs. Chihana who sustained two chip-off
fractures around her jaws and the priest who had a nasal bone fracture,?
said Acting Head of Chinese Mission at the Mzuzu Central Hospital, Dr. Danyaung
He also said the minibus conductor Yohane Mbewe was the only person from
the minibus hospitalised after the propeller cut off his two right fingers.
The pilot escaped unhurt and in an interview refused to say anything about
Said Mangwana: ?I cannot say anything on this matter, otherwise whatever
I say would prejudice investigations. Let the Department of Civil Aviation
talk on these issues.?
Director of Civil Aviation Justin Mkandawire said the Department of Civil
Aviation has instituted investigation into the accident.
?Our preliminary findings indicate that the pilot had difficulties in controlling
the plane in the direction of take off. This is classified in Aviation as
a reportable accident. We have instituted a thorough investigation and it
is only after that when we would tell you of the real cause of the accident,?
He said the investigations would be centred on the pilot?s condition during
take off; the condition of the plane itself; and the environment.
Meanwhile, Air Malawi says it has made alternative travel arrangements for
other passengers scheduled to have travelled to and from Mzuzu.
?The airline will provide further information regarding the cause of the
accident as soon as the responsible authorities have supplied us with the
information,? reads a statement from the airline.