President orders search operation after plane carrying Vice President Saulos Chilima went missing after it left the capital, Lilongwe.

A military plane carrying Malawi’s vice president and nine others has gone missing and a search is under way, the president’s office has said.

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 about 370km (230 miles) to the north around 45 minutes later.

The aircraft took off just after 9am local time (07:00 GMT).

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

Chakwera was informed of the missing plane by the head of the Malawian armed forces, then 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 statement said.

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.

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