Official Swims 12 Hours to Safety After Helicopter Crash

Madagascar minister describes his exhaustion
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2021 2:49 AM CST
Official Swims 12 Hours to Safety After Helicopter Crash
   (Getty Images / EduardHarkonen)

As government officials traveled to inspect the site of a shipwreck that left at least 39 dead Monday off the Madagascar coast, the helicopter they were in crashed. The country's police minister, Serge Gelle, was rescued Tuesday after swimming for 12 hours, the BBC reports. In comments made while lying on a stretcher, Gelle said he swam from 7:30 Monday night to 7:30 Tuesday morning and that he was exhausted and cold, but not injured, the Guardian reports. He reportedly used a helicopter seat as a flotation device.

"I would just like you to broadcast this video for my family to see, my colleagues to see, the government members to see. [I am] alive and well," Gelle said. "My time to die hasn't come yet." One or two other security officials aboard the copter also survived and made their way to shore over the same amount of time, but another one or two were still being searched for (reports on the number of survivors and missing vary). The survivors apparently ejected themselves from the helicopter before it crashed, Deutsche Welle reports. The cargo ship that sank was illegally carrying 130 passengers, dozens of whom remain missing, Sky News reports. Forty-five have been rescued. (More Madagascar stories.)

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