Military plane carrying Malawi’s Vice President, former first lady missing, search operation on

Malawi’s government said a search has been launched for a plane carrying Vice President Saulos Chilima and nine other passengers that went missing earlier on Monday.

Livemint
First Published11 Jun 2024
Saulos Klaus Chilima, Malawi's Vice President. (AFP Photo)
Saulos Klaus Chilima, Malawi’s Vice President. (AFP Photo)

Soldiers searched for a missing military plane carrying Malawi's 51-year-old Vice President Saulos Chilima and former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri in the mountainous forests of the country's northern region, said President Lazarus Chakwera on Monday. 

The plane carrying the Vice President, former first lady, and eight others left the southern African nation's capital, Lilongwe, at 9:17 a.m. on Monday. It was expected to land 45 minutes later at Mzuzu International Airport, AP reported. 

Addressing a TV channel MBC, Chakwera said, “Air traffic control told it not to attempt a landing and to turn around because of bad weather and poor visibility. Air traffic control lost contact with the aircraft and it disappeared from radar a short time later.”

“I know this is a heartbreaking situation. I know we are all frightened and concerned. I too am concerned. But I want to assure you that I am sparing no available resource to find that plane. And I am holding onto every fiber of hope that we will find survivors," he said as quoted by AP. 

Mzuzu, the third largest city in Malawi and the capital of the northern region is nestled in a hilly, forested area dominated by the Viphya mountain range, known for its extensive pine plantations.

The president promised to continue the search operations and said authorities using telecommunications towers tracked the plane's last known position to a 10-kilometre (6-mile) radius in one of the plantations. He said that area was the focus of the Malawi Defense Force search and rescue operation.

“I have given strict orders that the operation should continue until the plane is found. The U.S., the U.K., Norway and Israel offered assistance in the search operation and provided “specialized technologies” that the president hoped would help find the plane sooner," Chakwera said. 

“Dzimbiri, the ex-wife of former President Bakili Muluzi, was also one of the passengers. The group was travelling to attend the funeral of a former government minister. Three of those onboard were the military crew flying the plane. I have asked Malawians to pray for all those onboard and their families,” he added. 

 

(With AP inputs)

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