According to the Malawian president’s office statement, an aircraft carrying Malawi’s Vice-President Saulos Chilima and nine others has gone missing. The Malawi Defense Force aircraft “went off the radar” after departing from Lilongwe’s capital on Monday morning.

The aircraft was scheduled to land at Mzuzu International Airport in northern Malawi after 10:00 local time (09:00 BST). However, aviation officials lost contact with the aircraft, prompting President Lazarus Chakwera to order an immediate search and rescue operation.

Upon receiving the distressing news from the Defence Force’s commander, President Chakwera canceled his planned flight to the Bahamas, which was set for Monday evening. The president’s office assured the public that updates would be provided as more information becomes available.

General Valentino Phiri informed President Chakwera that the cause of the aircraft’s disappearance remains unknown. Malawi’s Information Minister, Moses Kunkuyu, told the BBC that locating the plane is “intensive.”

Vice-President Chilima was en route to represent the government at the funeral of former cabinet minister Ralph Kasambara, who passed away three days prior. Minister Kunkuyu noted that Mzuzu International Airport was the nearest to the funeral location.

Chilima faced legal challenges in 2022 when he was arrested and charged with accepting bribes in exchange for awarding government contracts. However, the court dropped the charges last month without providing specific reasons.