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Missing: Military aircraft carrying Malawi Vice President cannot be found

An aircraft carrying the Vice President of Malawi, Saulos Chilima, and nine other individuals is reported to be missing, a statement from the country’s President’s office has said.

The aircraft, which also carried former first lady of Malawi Shanil Dzimbiri, left the country’s capital city of Lilongwe, at 09:17 local time on June 10, 2024. It was expected to land 45 minutes later at Mzuzu International Airport (ZZU), about 370 kilometers (230 miles) to the north.

Due to bad weather and poor visibility, air traffic control at ZZU airport advised the aircraft not to attempt to land and turn around.

However, a short time later air traffic control lost contact with the aircraft and it disappeared from radar. 

“I know this is a heartbreaking situation. I know we are all frightened and concerned. I too am concerned,” Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera said in an address on broadcast TV.

“But I want to assure you that I am sparing no available resources to find that plane. And I am holding on to every fiber of hope that we will find survivors,” Chakwera said.

Condolences to our brothers & sisters in #Malawi & the families of those on board the flight together with the Vice President. May the Souls of those departed Rest in Peace.

— Prof Mthunzi Mdwaba (@Tzoro1) June 11, 2024

A statement from Chakwera’s office said a search and rescue operation had been launched immediately by several agencies including the Malawi Defense Force, the Police Service, and the Department of Civil Aviation.

Chakwera said the group was traveling to attend the burial of former cabinet minister Ralph Kasambara. Three of those aboard were the military crew flying the plane.

Chilima was first sworn in as Vice President of the Republic of Malawi on May 30, 2014. He was sworn in for his second term for the same position in June 2022. 

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