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Malawi: Plane carrying VP Saulos Chilima goes missing

June 10, 2024

A search is underway in Malawi after a plane carrying the country's vice-president, Saulos Chilima, and nine others, went missing.

Saulos Chilima
A search for a missing plane carrying Saulos Chilima and nine others is underwayImage: AMOS GUMULIRA/AFP

A military plane carrying the vice-president of Malawi and nine other people has gone missing and a search is underway,  President Lazarus Chakwera's office said on Monday.

The plane carrying 51-year-old Vice-President Saulos Chilima departed the capital, Lilongwe, but failed to make its scheduled landing at Mzuzu International Airport about 370 kilometers (230 miles) to the north around 45 minutes later.

"All efforts to make contact with the aircraft since it went off radar have failed thus far," a statement read, adding that President Chakwera has ordered "an immediate search and rescue operation to locate the whereabouts of the aircraft."

What we know so far

The plane carrying the vice president and nine others, including former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri, could not land at Mzuzu International Airport according to plan because air traiffic control told it to turn around because of bad weather and poor visibility, Chakwera later said in an address broadcast live on state TV channel MBC.

Air traffic control lost contact with the aircraft and it disappeared from radar a short time later, he said.

All resources geared toward finding missing plane, president says

"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 added.

In the meantime, Chakwera canceled a planned visit to the Bahamas. 

Vice-President Chilima was temporarily suspended from office in 2022 due to allegations of corruption, which were dropped in May.

rm, mf/wmr (dpa, AP)