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JUST IN: Aircraft carrying Malawi’s Vice President goes missing

A military plane carrying Malawi’s Vice President Saulos Chilima and nine others has gone missing, BBC reports, quoting a statement from the president’s office.

The Malawi Defense Force aircraft “went off the radar” after it left the capital, Lilongwe, on Monday morning.

The aircraft failed to make its scheduled landing at Mzuzu International Airport about 370 kilometres to the north about an hour later.

Aviation authorities lost contact with the plane when it “went off radar,” the statement from the Malawian President’s office said.

Lazarus Chakwera, the president of the Southeastern African country, had ordered a search operation and cancelled a trip to the Bahamas.

“All efforts to make contact with the aircraft since it went off radar have failed thus far,” the president’s office said.

Mr Chakwera was informed of the missing plane by Valentino Phiri, the head of the Malawian armed forces, according to the Associated Press (AP).

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

“The public will be updated on any developments on the situation as facts are established,” the statement said.

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

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