Malawi’s President Orders Search And Rescue For Missing Aircraft Carrying Vice President, Nine Others

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Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera has ordered that search and rescue operations will continue until the missing aircraft carrying Malawi’s vice president, Saulos Klaus Chilima, and nine others are found.

According to Malawi’s Office of the President and Cabinet in an earlier statement late Monday, said Chilima, 51, was aboard a military aircraft with nine others that left Lilongwe, the capital, at 09:17 a.m. (0717 GMT).

The office said efforts by aviation authorities to make contact with the aircraft since it went off the radar had failed. The plane had been scheduled to land at Mzuzu Airport at 10:02 a.m.

The plane was unable to land at the airport due to poor visibility and was ordered to return to the capital, President Lazarus Chakwera said in a televised address to the nation.

“I’m holding on to every fibre of hope that we’ll find survivors,” he said, adding that the search area was concentrated around a 10 km (6 miles) radius in a forest reserve.

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

He said Malawi had reached out to neighbouring countries, and the U.S., Britain, Norway and the Israeli governments for support in the rescue efforts.

Chilima, seen as a potential candidate in next year’s presidential election, was arrested in 2022 over graft allegations.

However, a Malawi court dropped the corruption charges against him last month after the director of public prosecutions filed a notice for the case to be discontinued.

Chilima has denied any wrongdoing.