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Wreck of missing Malawi VP's plane found: military source

Africa

  Malawi's Vice President, Saulos Chilima. [AFP]

Malawian searchers have found the wreckage of a plane that was carrying Vice President Saulos Chilima, a military source said Tuesday, a day after the aircraft went missing in bad weather.

The military plane carrying Chilima, 51, and nine others disappeared on Monday after it failed to land in the northern city of Mzuzu due to poor visibility and was told to return to the capital, Lilongwe.

Photographs shared with AFP by a member of the military rescue team showed army personnel standing on a foggy slope near debris bearing the registration number of the Malawi Army Air Wing Dornier 228-202K aircraft.

President Lazarus Chakwera was due to address the nation. It was not immediately clear if there were any survivors.

Rescuers had been combing a fog-cloaked forest south of Mzuzu on Tuesday, after authorities located the last tower it transmitted to before the plane disappeared.

Earlier, army commander General Paul Valentino Phiri said other countries, including Malawi's neighbours, had been aiding the search effort, with support including helicopters and drones.

The group departed just after 9:00 am (0700 GMT) from Lilongwe on Monday to attend the funeral of a former cabinet minister some 370 kilometres (230 miles) away in Mzuzu.

Malawi's former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri was also on board.

First elected vice president in 2014, the charismatic yet stern-talking Chilima is a widely loved figure in Malawi, particularly among young people.

But in 2022, during his second stint in the job, Chilima was stripped of his powers after being arrested and charged with graft over a bribery scandal involving a British-Malawian businessman.

Last month, a Malawian court dropped the charges and he resumed his official duties.

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