Malawi Vice President’s Aircraft Goes Missing Amid Bad Weather, Search Ops On

Malawi Vice President’s Aircraft Goes Missing Amid Bad Weather, Search Ops On

An aircraft carrying Malawi’s 51-year-old Vice-President Saulos Chilima, former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri and eight others has gone missing. According to an Associated Press report, the ten people — three of those on board were the military crew flying the plane — left the southern African nation’s capital, Lilongwe, at 9:17 AM and had been expected to land 45 minutes later at Mzuzu International Airport, about 370 kilometres to the north.

Air traffic control told the aircraft not to attempt landing and turn around due to the bad weather and poor visibility. A short time later, the air traffic control lost contact with the aircraft and disappeared from the radar. 

The group was on its way to attend the funeral of former cabinet minister Ralph Kasambara, who died three days ago, as per a BBC report.

President Lazarus Chakwera called it a “heartbreaking situation” in his address and stated that he was sparring no resources to search for the missing plane, as per AP. Chakwera earlier cancelled his flight to the Bahamas, which was scheduled for Monday evening, reported BBC.

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Soldiers are searching mountainous forests near a city in northern Malawi for the missing aircraft. Soldiers are “still on the ground carrying out the search and I have given strict orders that the operation should continue until the plane is found”, Chakwera said, adding that the army would give the public regular updates.

As per AP, Mzuzu is Malawi’s third-biggest city and the capital of the northern region. It lies in a hilly, forested area dominated by the Viphya mountain range, which has vast plantations of pine trees.

It is not clear why the aircraft disappeared, Moses Kunkuyu, Malawi’s information minister, told the BBC adding efforts to find the aircraft are “intensive”. 

The President said that the US, the UK, Norway, and Israel have offered assistance and provided “specialised technologies” to help find the aircraft sooner. 

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