Madagascar’s police minister reportedly swam a full 12 hours back to shore after his helicopter crashed into the sea. 57-year-old Serge Gelle was traveling by helicopter to the site of an ongoing rescue effort for a cargo ship that capsized off the northeast coast of Madagascar. When the helicopter went down he was able, using a seat as a flotation device, to swim from 7:30 P.M. to 7:30 A.M. and made it to land without any injuries.
Police minister survives crash
The police minister was flying by helicopter to oversee rescue efforts after a 39-foot wooden cargo vessel sank off the coast of Madagascar.
The vessel, which was not authorized to carry any passengers, was illegally crammed with 138 people when it went down after a reported “technical problem.”
At least 83 people drowned when the boat sank. 50 were rescued and several are still missing. The sinking is believed to have been caused by overcrowding which allowed water to flood the engine.
Three other individuals were on the helicopter with Mr. Gelle, including the pilot. The cause of the crash is unknown; Gelle said that the aircraft was destabilized by a powerful gust of wind.
The police minister was not wearing a life jacket so he quickly unfastened his seat and began to remove his boots, belt, and anything else that might weigh him down in the water.
Along with a security official who also survived the crash, Gelle was able to use his seat to stay above water for 12 hours as he made his way back to the coast.
Pilot still missing
The two survived their ordeal in the Indian Ocean without any serious injuries. The police minister was discovered by a fisherman in a canoe and brought to shore while the other survivor swam to shore elsewhere.
In a video posted on Twitter Gelle is recorded saying “My turn to die has not yet come, thank God. I’m well. I’m just cold.”
He also expresses sadness at the fact that he does not know the fate of the other two on the helicopter. The body of one officer has since been found, but the pilot is still missing.
The President of Madagascar and members of the public expressed their admiration for the feat and commented on the fact that the athletic police minister showed the stamina of a much younger man.
Gelle had been with the police for a decade before being appointed to his current position, officially Secretary of State for the Gendarmerie, in August.
When interviewed after his rescue Gelle said that he expected to be getting back to work within 24 hours.
The post Police Chief Swims 12 hours to Shore after Helicopter Crash appeared first on NEWS HOUR FIRST.
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Author: Staff Writer
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