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Plane carrying Malawi Vice President Saulos Chilima disappears from radar

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Malawi Vice President Saulos Chilima

Malawi’s government says a plane carrying ten people, including Vice President Saulos Chilima, has disappeared from radar while flying over the African country. A search and rescue operation is underway.

The plane had taken off from the capital Lilongwe at 9:17 a.m. on Monday for a 45-minute flight to Mzuzu, about 270 kilometers (165 miles) to the north, to attend the funeral of lawyer and former justice minister Ralph Kasambara.

“All efforts by aviation authorities to make contact with the aircraft since it went off the radar have failed thus far,” government spokeswoman Colleen Zamba said in a statement.

President Lazarus Chakwera has canceled his scheduled departure for the Bahamas and ordered all regional and national agencies to conduct an immediate search and rescue operation to help find the plane, Zamba said.

Local media said the plane was believed to have crashed in the Chikangawa forest during severe weather, adding that someone reported seeing the crash. Other details were not immediately known.

There were also conflicting reports about the type of aircraft involved in the crash, with local media using both “plane” and “helicopter.” It was later reported that the aircraft was likely a Dornier 228 plane.

Chilima, who is 51, has served as the country’s vice president since February 2020. He also served as vice president from 2014 to 2019 and held a number of other top posts, including minister of economic planning and development.

Vice President Chilima returned to Malawi on Sunday after attending the Korea-Africa Summit in South Korea, where he met with former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, and other officials.

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