The plane carrying the Vice President of Malawi went missing

The country’s government said on Monday a search was underway for a missing plane carrying the vice president of the Southeast African nation of Malawi and nine other people.

Vice President Saulos Chilima was traveling on a Malawi Defense Force plane that took off at 9:17 a.m. Monday from the capital Lilongwe. But it missed its scheduled landing at an airport in the north of the country, less than an hour’s flight away.

Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera said in a televised address that the plane was unable to land because of poor visibility due to bad weather. The pilot was instructed to return, but within minutes the plane disappeared from radar and aviation authorities were unable to establish contact with it.

“I know that this is a heartbreaking situation,” Mr. Chakwera said in a late news conference. “I know that we are all scared and worried.”

The government said in a statement that the president had launched a search and rescue operation involving both national and regional agencies. By afternoon, rescuers had narrowed the likely location of the accident to a radius of 6 miles.

As night fell, military and police officers continued searching by vehicle and on foot, but struggled to search in the dense forests of northern Malawi, local media reported. Despite these challenges, the search will continue until the plane is found, Mr. Chakwera said.

His government has also reached out to neighboring countries in southern Africa for support. He added that they are working with officials from the US, UK, Norway and Israel who can provide technological support.

The vice president was on his way to attend the funeral of the country’s former attorney general, Ralph Kasambara.

Mr. Chilima, 51, was a telecommunications executive before entering Malawian politics a decade ago. In late 2022, he was caught up in a corruption scandal and was arrested by the country’s Anti-Corruption Bureau over allegations that he received kickbacks from a businessman in exchange for government contracts.

He denies any wrongdoing, but the accusations have tarnished a government that has vowed to clean up corruption in one of Africa’s poorest countries. Last month, Malawi authorities dropped the case and withdrew all charges against Mr. Chilima.

He is expected to launch a run for president of Malawi in the 2025 election.

Once political rivals, Mr. Chakwera and Mr. Chilima formed a coalition in 2019 after losing an election marred by irregularities. The two candidates successfully challenged the results, and after the judicial panel ruled in their favor, the two men won a second vote later in 2020 on the same ticket.


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