Aircraft carrying Malawi vice-president goes missing

A statement from the president’s office announced that an aircraft carrying Malawi’s Vice-President Saulos Chilima and nine others has gone missing. The Malawi Defence Force aircraft “went off the radar” after departing from the capital, Lilongwe, on Monday morning. The plane was scheduled to arrive at Mzuzu International Airport in the country’s north shortly after 10:00 local time (09:00 BST).

In a speech on Monday evening, President Lazarus Chakwera said a search and rescue operation is ongoing. “Soldiers are still on the ground conducting the search, and I have issued strict orders for the operation to continue until the plane is located,” he stated, calling it a “heart-breaking situation.” He assured the public that he is doing everything possible to find the plane and remains hopeful for survivors.

President Chakwera canceled his scheduled Monday evening flight to the Bahamas. The cause of the aircraft’s disappearance is currently unknown, as General Valentino Phiri informed President Chakwera. Malawi’s information minister, Moses Kunkuyu, told the media that efforts to locate the aircraft are “intensive.”

Vice-President Chilima was en route to attend the burial of former cabinet minister Ralph Kasambara, who passed away three days ago. Kunkuyu mentioned that the airport in the northern part of Mzuzu was the nearest to the funeral site.

In 2022, Dr. Chilima was arrested and charged with accepting bribes in exchange for awarding government contracts, but the charges were dropped last month without explanation.

President Chakwera reiterated the gravity of the situation, emphasizing his commitment to the search efforts. “We are all deeply distressed and anxious. However, I want to assure the nation that no effort is being spared in the search operation. We are determined to find the plane and are holding onto hope for any potential survivors,” he said.

The sudden disappearance of the aircraft has raised numerous concerns and questions. Aviation experts are working alongside military personnel to investigate the possible causes, including weather conditions, mechanical failure, or other unforeseen factors that may have contributed to the aircraft going off the radar.

Meanwhile, the families of the passengers and crew are being supported by government officials as they await news. The Vice-President’s disappearance has sent shockwaves throughout the nation, given his prominent role in the government and recent legal controversies.

Who is Saulos Chilima?

– Before his political career, Dr. Chilima held key leadership positions at multinational companies like Unilever and Coca-Cola.
– He is 51 years old.
– He is married and has two children.
– Dr. Chilima is described on the government’s website as a “performer,” “workaholic,” and “achiever.”
– He holds a PhD in Knowledge Management.

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