Saturday, January 22

Official swims for 12 hours after helicopter crash near Madagascar

Serge Gelle swam for 12 hours in the Indian Ocean after the helicopter he was traveling in crashed.

Photo: GAELLE BORGIA / AFPTV / AFP / Getty Images

One Madagascar government official says he managed to swim for 12 continuous hours heading for the mainland, after the helicopter I was traveling in will crash in the Indian Ocean.

Serge Gelle, who is Madagascar’s police minister, was one of four people aboard the helicopter when it crashed last Monday, shortly before coming to the aid of a sinking cargo ship.

Gelle was discovered by a fisherman sailing in a canoe about 500 feet offshore in Mahambo, in the northeast of the country, on Tuesday morning.

“My turn to die has not yet come, thank God. I’m good. I’m just cold, ”Gelle said in a video posted on Twitter by Madagascar’s Defense Ministry shortly after he was found.

Gelle, who spoke while lying on a bunk, still dressed in his wet military camouflage, said he used the helicopter pilot’s seat to stay afloat in the water.

“Not having a life jacket, I unbuckled the seat and used it as a buoy. I kept calm and took off everything heavy I was wearing, like boots and belt. I did everything possible to stay alive, “he said.

“Since I couldn’t fight the waves, I knew I wouldn’t make it to the mainland. Yet it was very close. I was very close, but the waves sent me back because I was getting tired, “he added.

Serge Gelle, Madagascar’s police minister. (Photo: Gaelle BORGIA / AFPTV / AFP)

“I thank heaven that there was a fisherman. But the fisherman’s canoe was too small. So he had to go back for a bigger one. So I stayed two more hours at sea, ”the official reported.

One of the other passengers, Petty Officer Jimmy Laitsara, was also found alive shortly after the accident, however, the pilot and other passengers remain missing, authorities announced.

Investigators are working to determine the cause of the accident, but Gelle said gusts of wind destabilized the aircraft before it sank into the water.

The helicopter they were in was one of two that flew to see where the freighter sank, killing at least 83 people.

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