Aircraft carrying Malawi vice-president and wife goes missing

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LILONGWE, MALAWI – An aircraft carrying Malawi’s Vice-President Saulos Chilima and nine others has gone missing, a statement from the president’s office has said.

The Malawi Defense Force aircraft “went off the radar” after it left the capital, Lilongwe, on Monday morning, it added.

The president ordered a search and rescue operation after aviation officials were unable to contact the aircraft.

It was supposed to land at Mzuzu International Airport, in the country’s north, just after 10:00 local time.

Other passengers on the flight include Mr Chilima’s wife, Mary, and a number of officials from the vice-president’s United Transformation Movement (UTM) party.

After being told of the incident by Defence Force’s commander, Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera cancelled his scheduled flight to the Bahamas.

“The public will be updated of any developments on the situation as facts are established,” the president’s office said.

The reason for the aircraft’s disappearance is not yet known, General Valentino Phiri told Mr Chakwera. Moses Kunkuyu, Malawi’s information minister, told the BBC efforts to find the aircraft are “intensive”.

Mr Chilima was on his way to represent the government at the burial of former cabinet minister Ralph Kasambara, who died three days ago.

Prior to his political career, he held key leadership roles in multinational companies like Unilever and Coca Cola.

Mr Chilima, aged 51, has been vice-president of the southern African country since 2014.

He is married with two children.

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