Airplane carrying Malawi's vice president goes missing

Malawi Saulos Chilima ap

A search is underway after a military aircraft carrying the vice president of Malawi went missing Monday morning.

Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera addressed his nation on Monday after he was notified that the plane carrying Malawi Vice President Saulos Chilima, former Malawi first lady Shanil Dzimbiri and eight others went missing.

The plane had left the nation’s capital at about 9:17 a.m. local time Monday but was advised by air traffic control to not attempt a landing at Mzuzu International Airport due to bad weather and poor visibility, Chakwera said. He said that authorities “soon lost contact” with the plane.

He said he ordered the Malawi Defense Force to conduct a search-and-rescue mission after being notified that the aircraft went missing. He said authorities narrowed down the last known location of the plane to a 10-kilometer radius using telecommunication technology.

“I know this is a heartbreaking situation. I know we are all frightened and concerned. I too am concerned,” Chakwera said. “But I want to assure you that I am sparing no available resource to find that plane. And I am holding onto every fiber of hope that we will find survivors.”

He said that the U.S., Norwegian, Israeli and British governments have all offered their support. He added that soldiers from the Malawi Defense Force are on the ground to find the plane.

“I have given strict orders that the operation should continue until the plane is found,” Chakwera said.

Chilima has been the vice president since 2020, The Associated Press (AP) noted. The AP reported that Chilima has been facing corruption charges related to allegations that he received money in exchange for influencing the awarding of government contracts, but those charges have now been dropped.

The Associated Press contributed.

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