Search Intensifies for Missing Plane Carrying Malawi’s VP
11 June 2024
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By A Correspondent | Soldiers are combing through the hills and forests near Mzuzu in northern Malawi as the search continues for a military plane carrying the nation’s Vice President, Saulos Chilima, that went missing Monday. President Lazarus Chakwera announced the intensified search efforts in a live broadcast on state TV channel MBC.

Chilima and wife…

The plane, carrying Vice President Chilima, 51, and nine others, took off from Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, at 9:17 a.m. and was scheduled to land at Mzuzu International Airport 45 minutes later. However, due to inclement weather and poor visibility, air traffic control instructed the plane to return to Lilongwe. It disappeared from radar shortly afterward.

“I know this is a heartbreaking situation. I know we are all frightened and concerned. I too am concerned,” President Chakwera said. “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.”

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

The president pledged that search operations would persist through the night. “I have given strict orders that the operation should continue until the plane is found,” Chakwera asserted.

International assistance has been offered by the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway, and Israel to aid in the search effort.

Vice President Chilima has been in office since 2020. He previously ran as a candidate in the 2019 Malawian presidential election, finishing third. That election was controversially annulled by Malawi’s Constitutional Court due to irregularities, leading to a historic election rerun in 2020 where Chakwera emerged victorious, unseating the incumbent president.

Chilima has faced legal challenges, including corruption charges for allegedly receiving bribes to influence government contracts. These charges were dropped last month, sparking criticism over the administration’s commitment to fighting corruption. Despite his arrest in late 2022 and several court appearances, Chilima has denied all allegations.

As the nation holds its breath, the search for the missing plane and its passengers continues with unwavering determination.- Agencies