The plane of Malawian Vice President Saulos Chilima has been missing since Monday morning. A search and rescue operation is underway, the presidential office said in a statement in the evening. The Malawian armed forces plane with Chilima and nine other people on board took off on a domestic flight in the morning, but then disappeared from radar. President Lazarus Chakwera then suspended a planned trip abroad.

Late in the evening, Chakwera said in a televised address that the plane had been unable to land at its destination due to poor visibility. The aviation authority had suggested that the pilot return to Lilongwe due to the bad weather conditions, but lost contact shortly afterwards. Chakwera contradicted reports that the search for the plane had been called off in the evening: “I have given strict instructions that the search will continue until the plane is found.”

Chakwera said he was concerned but held on to hope that survivors would be found. He was in contact with neighboring countries and development partners such as the governments of the United States, Great Britain, Norway and Israel, who had offered help, including technical means to locate the plane more quickly.

According to Malawian media reports, villagers near a forest area saw a plane at low altitude and notified the authorities.