Aircraft carrying Malawi's vice president Saulos Chilima missing

An aircraft carrying Malawi's vice president and nine others has gone missing.

According to the president's office, Saulos Chilima was on board when the flight "went off radar" after leaving the capital, Lilongwe, on Monday morning.

Rescue operations are ongoing, it added, after efforts to "make contact" with the plane failed.

"The public will be updated of any developments on the situation as facts are established," Malawi's Office of the President and Cabinet said.

A Malawi Defence Force plane left the capital at 9.17am (8.17am UK time), secretary to the president Colleen Zamba said in a statement.

The aircraft had been scheduled to land at Mzuzu International Airport at 10.02am, a trip covering a distance of about 370km.

Local media reports Mr Chilima, 51, had been on his way to the funeral of Ralph Kasambara, a lawyer and former minister.

Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera has cancelled a trip to the Bahamas and ordered authorities to "conduct an immediate search and rescue operation to locate the whereabouts of the aircraft".

Mr Chilima had been arrested in 2022 after Malawi's corruption watchdog alleged he was rewarded for helping two companies get government contracts.

He denied any wrongdoing and last month the charges were dropped, with no reason given.

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His lawyer, Khumbo Soko, said in May "we do not know the reasons for the discontinuance", adding "suffice to say only parliament has the mandate to know".

The move had cleared a legal hurdle over his potential candidacy in next year's presidential election.