Malawi vice president's plane may have crashed in forest, military says

malawi vice president's plane may have crashed in forest, military says

FILE PHOTO: Malawi's Vice President Saulos Klaus Chilima arrives at a polling station in Lilongwe, Malawi May 21, 2019 in this still image obtained from REUTERS TV video. REUTERS TV/Eldson Chagara/via REUTERS/File Photo

BLANTYRE, Malawi (Reuters) -The airplane carrying Malawi's Vice President Saulos Klaus Chilima may have crashed in dense forest, but it has not yet been found, the military said on Tuesday.

Top military official Paul Valentino Phiri told reporters that search and rescue operations had been hampered by foggy weather around the Chikangawa Forest which was affecting visibility.

Chilima, 51, was aboard a military aircraft with nine others that left Lilongwe, the capital, at 09:17 a.m. (0717 GMT) on Monday.

The plane had been scheduled to land at Mzuzu airport at 10:02 a.m. but was unable to land due to poor visibility and was ordered to return to the capital, President Lazarus Chakwera said in a televised address to the nation on Monday.

Aviation authorities had failed to make contact with the aircraft since it went off the radar.

Malawi's information minister said the country had asked Angola's space agency for help finding the plane.

Chilima, seen as a potential candidate in next year's presidential election, was arrested in 2022 over graft allegations.

However, a Malawi court dropped the charges against him last month after the director of public prosecutions filed a notice for the case to be discontinued. Chilima has denied wrongdoing.

(Reporting by Frank Phiri in Blantyre; Writing by Tannur Anders; Editing by Alexander Winning)

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