Plane carrying Malawi vice-president and nine others goes missing

Saulos Chilima (AFP via Getty Images)
Saulos Chilima (AFP via Getty Images)

A military plane carrying Malawi's vice president and nine others has gone missing and a search is underway.

The plane carrying 51-year-old Vice President Saulos Chilima left the capital Lilongwe on Monday but failed to make its scheduled landing at Mzuzu International Airport, 230 miles to the north, around 45 minutes later.

Aviation authorities lost contact with the plane when it “went off radar", the statement from Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera's office said.

Mr Chakwera ordered a search operation and canceled a trip to the Bahamas, his office said.

“All efforts to make contact with the aircraft since it went off radar have failed thus far," the statement said.

Mr Chakwera was informed of the missing plane by General Valentino Phiri, the head of the Malawian armed forces.

The president ordered national and local authorities to "conduct an immediate search and rescue operation to locate the whereabouts of the aircraft," his office said.

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

Before politics, the 51-year-old held leadership roles in multinational companies like Unilever and Coca Cola.

He has been vice-president of Malawi since 2014.