Old image from Ukraine falsely linked to plane crash that killed Malawi’s vice president


“BREAKING NEWS: Malawi Vice President Saulos Chilima and 9 others confirmed dead in a plane crash,” reads an X post published on June 11, 2024. 

The post includes a photograph of a plane crash with what appear to be soldiers in the background.


On June 11, 2024, Malawi's President Lazarus Chakwera confirmed that Chilima and eight others – one less than initially reported – died after his plane crashed in poor weather (archived here). Former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri was also on board. The next day searchers located the wreckage in a misty forest. 

However, the picture in the post is unrelated to the events in Malawi.

Ukraine plane

A reverse image search of the picture showed it was originally taken in Ukraine in 2020 (archived here). 

“Photo taken on Sept. 26, 2020, shows the crash site of a 26 military aircraft in Chuguev, Kharkiv region, Ukraine,” reads part of the caption. The photograph was taken by Sergey Starostenko for the Chinese news agency Xinhua.

Screenshot of the 2020 photograph on Xinhua, taken on June 14, 2024

On September 25, 2020, the An-26 military aircraft with 27 people on board crashed during a training flight while landing at an army base near Chuguev in Kharkiv region. One person survived.

Malawi crash

In his address to the Malawian people, Chakwera said: "The search and rescue team have found the aircraft ... completely destroyed with no survivors, as all passengers on board were killed on impact."

Photographs shared with AFP by a member of the military rescue team showed military personnel standing on a misty slope near debris bearing the registration number of the Malawi Army Air Wing Dornier 228-202K aircraft. 

One of the images was published by Sky News here (archived here).

Screenshot of a crash site photo on Sky News article published on June 11, 2024

The military plane carrying Chilima, 51, and eight others disappeared after it failed to land in the northern city of Mzuzu due to bad weather and was told to return to the capital, Lilongwe (archived here).

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