An aircraft carrying Malawi's Vice President Saulos Chilima and nine others has gone missing, a statement from the president's office has said.
An aircraft carrying Malawi's Vice President Saulos Chilima and nine others has gone missing, a statement from the president's office has said.
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Aircraft carrying Malawi vice president goes missing

An aircraft carrying Malawi's Vice-President Saulos Chilima and nine others has gone missing, a statement from the president's office has said.

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The Malawi Defence Force aircraft "went off the radar" after it left the capital, Lilongwe, on Monday morning, it added.

The president ordered a search and rescue operation after aviation officials were unable to contact the aircraft.

It was supposed to land at Mzuzu International Airport, in the country’s north, just after 10:00 local time.

After being told of the incident by the Defence Force's commander, Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera cancelled his flight to the Bahamas, which was scheduled for Monday evening.

“The public will be updated of any developments on the situation as facts are established,” the president's office said.

The reason for the aircraft's disappearance is not yet known, General Valentino Phiri told Mr Chakwera.

Mr Chilima was on his way to represent the government at the burial of former cabinet minister Ralph Kasambara, who died three days ago.

Mr Kunkuyu said: "The airport he was to land, which is in the northern part of Mzuzu, was the closest to where the funeral was taking place.”

In 2022, Dr Chilima was arrested and charged on allegations that he accepted money in exchange for awarding government contracts .
Last month, the court dropped the charges, giving no reasons for this decision.

Attached below is a copy of the statement from Capital Hill in Lilongwe

Capital Hill, Lilongwe - The Office of the President and Cabinet wishes to inform the general public that the Malawi Defense Force Aircraft that left Lilongwe today, Monday 10th June 2024 at 09:17 Hours, carrying the Vice President, the Right Honourable Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima, and nine others, failed to make its scheduled landing at Mzuzu International Airport at 10:02.

All efforts by aviation authorities to make contact with the Aircraft since it went off the radar have failed thus far. As such, the Commander of the Malawi Defense Force, General Valentino Phiri, has since informed His Excellency Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera of the incident and the President has since canceled his scheduled departure for the Bahamas and ordered all regional and national agencies to conduct an immediate search and rescue operation to locate the whereabouts of the aircraft.

The public will be updated of any developments on the situation as facts are established.

Colleen Zamba
SECRETARY TO THE PRESIDENT AND CABINET
Monday, 10th June 2024

Attached below is the speech of the President of Malawi, Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera in his first update on the incident 
MONDAY, 10TH JUNE 2024

Fellow Malawians, 

I have just come out of an emergency Cabinet meeting that I convened this evening to update Our Senior  Government officials about the latest developments in the search of the missing aircraft that carried the Vice President, Right Honourable Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima, 
from Lilongwe to Mzuzu this morning.

Although I stand before you with a heart too heavy for words and though I know that you are all filled with more anxiety than 
words can soothe, I humbly beg your pardon and ask you to allow me to tell you what we know so far.  

At 7:05am this morning, a Malawi Defence Force Aircraft Number MAF TO3 left Mzuzu Airfield and landed at Kamuzu International Airport at 7:48am to carry the Honourable Vice President to Mzuzu to attend the funeral of Former Attorney General and Minister of 
Justice, late Honourable Ralph Kasambara.

Then at 9:17am, the aircraft departed Kamuzu International Airport with the Vice President and nine other individuals on board, including Mr. Lukas Kapheni, Mr. Chisomo Chimaneni, Ms. Gloria Mtukule, Ms. Shanil Dzimbiri, Mr. Dan Kanyemba, Mr. Abdul Lapukeni, as well as Colonel Sambalopa, Major Selemani, and Major Aidin, who were the MDF officers operating the aircraft. 

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However, upon arrival in Mzuzu, the pilot was unable to land the plane due to poor visibility occasioned by bad weather, and Aviation Authorities advised the aircraft to return to Lilongwe, but the authorities soon lost contact with the aircraft.  

The MDF Commander contacted me immediately and I ordered him to effect a search and rescue operation and to give me a report within four hours. That report was given to me at 3pm, and by that time it had been established using signals from telecommunication towers in the area that the plane was located somewhere within a 10km radius of Raiply, which has since become the area of focus for the MDF search and rescue operation.

I know that some media outlets have reported that the search and rescue operation has been suspended, but this is false. MDF soldiers are still on the ground carrying out the search and I have given strict orders that the operation should continue until the plane is found.

I have also directed the MDF officials who are overseeing the operation to give you all regular updates on how the operation is going so that we can all be informed about the progress of establishing what happened to our loved ones, our colleagues, and our fellow compatriots who were on board that flight.  

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I know that this is a heartbreaking situation. I know that 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 on to every fibre of hope that we will find survivors. We have already contacted our neighbouring countries, as well as development partners, including the US Government, 
the British Government, the Norwegian Government, and the Israeli Government, who have all offered support in different forms, including the use of specialized technologies that will enhance our capacity to find the plane sooner, and I am most grateful for this support.  

Until I address you again, I ask you to use the MDF updates as an official source of information so that you are not misled by hearsay, and more than anything, I ask you to pray for those who were on board and for their families. But come what may, I assure you that God is 
with us and will see us through this dark tunnel, especially if we stick together and help each other. 

Thank you for listening and God be you. 

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