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Search continues for missing plane carrying Malawi’s vice president

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Soldiers in northern Malawi are conducting a search operation in the hills and forests near the city after a military plane carrying Vice President Saulos Chilima and nine others went missing on Monday. The plane left the capital, Lilongwe, and was supposed to land at Mzuzu International Airport, but air traffic control instructed it to turn back due to bad weather and poor visibility. President Lazarus Chakwera assured the public that all available resources are being used to find the missing plane and expressed hope for survivors.

Mzuzu, Malawi’s third-largest city and the capital of the northern region, is located in a hilly, forested area surrounded by the Viphya mountain range. Search operations are ongoing, with the president emphasizing that they will continue throughout the night. Assistance in the search operation has been offered by the U.S., the U.K., Norway, and Israel, showcasing international support for the efforts to locate the missing aircraft.

Vice President Chilima has been in office since 2020 and previously ran for president in the 2019 Malawian election, finishing third. Following the annulment of the election results due to irregularities, he joined forces with Chakwera in the historic 2020 election rerun, leading to Chakwera’s victory and the first instance in Africa where a court-ordered rerun resulted in the defeat of the incumbent president. Despite facing corruption charges related to government contracts, which were dropped by prosecutors last month, Chilima’s trial has yet to begin, with the vice president maintaining his innocence.

The disappearance of Vice President Chilima’s plane has left many concerned and anxious about the safety of those on board. The rugged terrain of the search area presents challenges for locating the aircraft, but President Chakwera’s commitment to using all available resources and the involvement of international partners demonstrate a coordinated effort to find the missing plane and any potential survivors. The vice president’s political history, from his unsuccessful presidential bid to his current role, adds depth to the story and raises questions about the impact of his disappearance on Malawi’s political landscape.

As the search for the missing plane continues, the focus remains on locating Vice President Chilima and the others on board. The situation is described as heartbreaking and alarming, but President Chakwera’s determination to keep the operation running around the clock signifies a strong resolve to bring closure to the incident. The involvement of international partners in the search effort underscores the solidarity and cooperation among nations during times of crisis, highlighting the importance of working together to address common challenges and uncertainties. The unresolved allegations of corruption against Vice President Chilima add a layer of complexity to the story, raising questions about the political implications of his potential absence and the ongoing legal proceedings surrounding the case.

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