A Madagascan minister claims he swam for 12 hours to save himself after his helicopter crashed out at sea.
Serge Gelle, Madagascar’s secretary of state for police, was flying on Monday to the site of a passenger boat wreck in the northeastern part of the country when his chopper crashed.
The minister and two other security officials, who also survived the helicopter crash, ejected themselves, port authority chief Jean-Edmond Randrianantenaina told the AFP news agency.
The details of how the other officials were rescued, however, are not clear.
The minister, praised for being athletic by one of his colleagues, said he used a helicopter seat as a floatation device and swam for 12 hours until he reached the shore of the seaside town of Mahambo.
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Video of the minister lying on a stretcher while still in military fatigues was shared by the country’s Ministry of National Defence on Twitter on Tuesday.
“It’s not my time to die,” the minister said, according to reports. Mr Gelle claimed he began swimming from 7.30pm on Monday evening till 7.30am on Tuesday morning.
“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,” Mr Gelle was heard telling villagers in the video.
Madagascar police chief Zafisambatra Ravoavy credited the minister’s “great stamina in sport” for his survival.
“…and he’s kept up this rhythm as a minister, just like a 30-year-old… he has nerves of steel,” he told AFP.
The island country’s president, Andry Rajoelina, offered his condolences for the deaths from the boat accident and praised the minister for surviving the crash.