Malawi's President Bingu wa Mutharika died early Friday, hours after the 78-year-old suffered a heart attack, a hospital source in the capital Lilongwe said.
"He died... after two hours of resuscitation" shortly after midnight, the hospital source said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the government has not yet made a formal announcement.
Mutharika was reported by state radio to have been airlifted to South Africa in the early morning hours. The hospital source said that he was taken to South Africa to be embalmed.
Reporters at the airport in the capital Lilongwe said they were chased from the terminal during the night departure.
Neither the South African government nor hospital officials in Johannesburg could comment on Mutharika, saying only Malawi's government was authorised to speak about the president.
Mutharika's Vice President Joyce Banda is next in line to run the country, according to the constitution.
But her succession to power could create new political tensions, because Mutharika kicked her out of the ruling party in 2010 as he chose to groom his brother as heir apparent instead of her.© ANP/AFP