gtag('config', 'UA-12595121-1'); Military Plane Carrying Malawi Vice President Goes Missing – The Zimbabwe Mail

Military Plane Carrying Malawi Vice President Goes Missing

Malawi Vice President Saulos Chilima,left, and his wife Mary disembark from a plane upon his return from South Korea in Lillongwe, Sunday, June 9, 2024. A military plane carrying Malawi’s vice president and nine others went missing Monday and a search was underway, the president’s office said. The plane carrying 51-year-old Vice President Saulos Chilima left the capital, Lilongwe, but failed to make its scheduled landing at Mzuzu International Airport about 370 kilometers (230 miles) to the north around 45 minutes later. (AP Photo)
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BLANTYRE, Malawi — A military aircraft carrying Malawi’s Vice President Saulos Chilima and nine others disappeared Monday during a short flight from the capital, Lilongwe, to a northern mountainous region.

A search operation is currently underway, according to a statement from President Lazarus Chakwera’s office.

The plane departed Lilongwe at 9:17 a.m. but vanished from radar and failed to land as expected approximately 45 minutes later at Mzuzu International Airport, which is about 370 kilometers (230 miles) to the north.

“All efforts to make contact with the aircraft since it went off radar have failed thus far,” the president’s office announced. In response, President Chakwera has ordered a search and rescue mission and canceled his planned trip to the Bahamas. The identities of the others on board have not been disclosed.

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

Malawi’s The Times media group reported that search teams, including soldiers, police officers, and other personnel, are scouring the forested areas near Mzuzu for any signs of the missing plane.

In related news, Vice President Chilima has been in the spotlight for facing corruption charges over allegations of accepting bribes in exchange for influencing government contracts. These charges were unexpectedly dropped by prosecutors last month, sparking criticism of President Chakwera’s administration for not taking a firm enough stance against corruption.

Chilima, who was arrested in late 2022 and appeared in court several times, denied the allegations. The trial had not commenced before the charges were dropped.

In the 2019 Malawian presidential election, Chilima ran as a candidate and finished third. The election, initially won by incumbent Peter Mutharika, was annulled by Malawi’s Constitutional Court due to irregularities. Chilima then joined Chakwera’s campaign as his running mate in the historic 2020 election rerun, which saw Chakwera elected president. This marked the first time in Africa that an annulled election result led to the defeat of a sitting president.

President Chakwera has directed national and local authorities to “conduct an immediate search and rescue operation to locate the whereabouts of the aircraft.” He later announced via his official Facebook page that he would address the nation live at 11 p.m.


Eyewitnesses have reported seeing a crash in the Chikangawa forest, believed to involve the helicopter carrying Vice President Chilima. At this moment, the government has not issued any statements to dispel these fears.

In response to the situation, sources have confirmed that President Lazarus Chakwera has cancelled his planned trip to the Bahamas. Further fueling concerns, it has been reported that Vice President Chilima’s phone was last active at around 10:30 AM this morning. The chopper was expected to return to Lilongwe within an hour of departing from Mzuzu.

This developing story will be updated as more information becomes available.