Malawi Searches for Missing Plane Carrying Vice President

(Bloomberg) -- Malawi’s government said a search is continuing for an aircraft carrying Vice President Saulos Chilima and nine other passengers that went missing on Monday.

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The Malawi Defense Force aircraft left Lilongwe, the capital, shortly after 9 a.m. local time and failed to arrive at its destination in the north of the southern African nation, Malawi’s presidency said in a statement on the government’s Facebook page.

“All efforts by aviation authorities to make contact with the aircraft have failed thus far,” Secretary to the President Colleen Zamba said in the statement.

Search efforts are being hampered by bad weather in Chikangawa Forest, where the plane carrying the vice president went missing, Malawi Defence Force General Valentino Phiri told reporters Tuesday.

President Lazarus Chakwera has asked for assistance from neighboring countries along with the US, UK, Norwegian and Israeli governments to help search for the plane, the government said in a separate statement.

Chilima, 51, is popular among Malawi’s youth and is seen as a potential power broker in elections scheduled to take place next year, which neither the ruling Malawi Congress Party nor the rival Democratic Progressive Party is expected to win outright. While Chilima has been expected to run for the presidency, he’s made no public declaration of that intent.

An economist and businessman who had a successful career in telecommunications, he entered politics in 2014 and became the country’s youngest Vice President that year after the country’s former President Peter Mutharika picked him as his running mate.

(Updates with comment by defence force chief in fourth paragraph.)

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