Soldiers are searching mountainous forests near a city in northern Malawi after a military plane carrying the country’s vice president and a former first lady went missing in the area Monday, President Lazarus Chakwera said.
The plane carrying 51-year-old Vice President Saulos Chilima, former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri and eight others left the southern African nation’s capital, Lilongwe, at 9:17 a.m. and had been expected to land 45 minutes later at Mzuzu International Airport, about 370 kilometers (230 miles) to the north.
But air traffic control told it to not attempt a landing and to turn around because of bad weather and poor visibility, Chakwera said in an address broadcast live on state TV channel MBC.
Air traffic control lost contact with the aircraft and it disappeared from radar a short time later, he said.
“I know this is a heartbreaking situation. I know we are all frightened and concerned. I too am concerned,” 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.”
The president vowed that search operations would continue through the night and said authorities using telecommunications towers tracked the last known position of the plane to a 10-kilometer (6-mile) radius in one of the plantations. That area was the focus of the Malawi Defense Force search and rescue operation, he said.
Chakwera said the U.S., the U.K., Norway and Israel offered assistance in the search operation and had provided “specialized technologies” that the president hoped would help find the plane sooner.
Chilima has been vice president since 2020.

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