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Malawi Vice President’s Aircraft Goes Missing, Search and Rescue Operations Underway

An aircraft carrying Malawi’s Vice President Saulos Klaus Chilima and nine others has gone missing, Malawi’s presidency announced on Monday. According to a statement from Malawi’s Office of the President and Cabinet, all efforts by aviation authorities to make contact with the aircraft since it went off the radar have failed thus far.

Chilima, 51, was aboard a Malawi Defense Force aircraft that departed from the capital, Lilongwe, at 09:17 am. The aircraft was scheduled to land at Mzuzu International Airport at 10:02 am. However, communication with the plane was lost, prompting search and rescue operations that are currently ongoing.

In response to the situation, President Lazarus Chakwera has ordered regional and national forces to conduct an immediate search and rescue operation to locate the whereabouts of the aircraft. President Chakwera, who was set to travel to the Bahamas for a working visit, has canceled his trip to focus on the search efforts.

This incident follows a turbulent period for Vice President Chilima. In 2022, he was stripped of his powers after being arrested and charged with graft in connection to a bribery scandal involving a British-Malawian businessman. The charges were dropped last month after Chilima attended several court appearances.

The disappearance of Chilima’s aircraft is reminiscent of a similar incident last month involving a helicopter carrying Iran’s then-president Ebrahim Raisi and other officials. The helicopter disappeared for several hours before it was confirmed that it had crashed upon landing in the mountainous Varzaqan region of the country under poor weather conditions. Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and the governor of East Azerbaijan province Malek Rahmati were among those onboard. The convoy comprised three helicopters, of which the other two landed safely.

As search and rescue operations continue, the people of Malawi and the international community await further updates on the fate of Vice President Chilima and those aboard the missing aircraft.

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