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Minister swims for 12 hours after chopper crashes into ocean

Madagascar’s secretary of state for police was forced to swim for around 12 hours back to shore after a helicopter surveying a shipwreck off the island’s northeast coast plunged into the ocean.

Serge Gelle had been on a helicopter with others as part of an effort to inspect the site of a shipwreck that occurred on Monday when a wooden vessel sank in the Indian Ocean.

However, the aircraft plummeted into the ocean 12 hours from shore, forcing the minister to make the treacherous and challenging swim back to dry land in a bid for survival.

Gelle, 57, was filmed shortly after returning to Madagascar’s mainland, lying on a deck chair, exhausted and still in his military uniform. He managed to stay alive by turning one of the helicopter’s seats into a flotation device.

“My time to die hasn’t come yet,” the minister and military general said, telling rescue workers on shore that he is cold and tired but not injured after the crash.

“He has always had great stamina in sport, and he’s kept up this rhythm as minister, just like a 30-year-old,” police chief Zafisambatra Ravoavy said, praising the minister after his return.

A police officer who was onboard the helicopter also managed to safely reach land, but two other passengers are still missing, according to police and port authorities.

The shipwreck, thought to be a cargo ship, is believed to have been illegally carrying passengers, with roughly 130 people on board. So far, 64 people have been confirmed dead, with 20 still missing, as the search for survivors continues.

Investigating authorities have suggested that the ship sank after suffering a “technical problem” that left it at the mercy of tidal forces, pushing it aground on a reef.

https://ift.tt/2hpq7SJ 22, 2021 at 04:32PM
from RT – Daily news

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