Madagascar: Minister ‘swims for 12 hours’ after helicopter crashes at sea

A government minister in Madagascar has said he swam for 12 hours to safety after his helicopter crashed at sea during a rescue mission.

“It’s not my time to die,” exhausted Police Minister Serge Gelle said as he recovered on a stretcher.

Another security officials travelling with him in the helicopter also survived the crash.

The team had been flying to inspect the site of a shipwreck in the north-east of the country on Monday night.

The number of people killed in that accident has risen to 64 with at least 20 others still missing, the maritime agency has said

The vessel was a cargo ship that was not authorised to carry passengers, and was overloaded and water flooded its engine, an agency official was quoted by Reuters news as saying.

At least 45 survivors have so far been rescued, the agency said.

On Twitter President Andry Rajoelina mourned those who died and also paid tribute to Mr Gelle and the other officer, who arrived in the seaside town of Mahambo separately.

The helicopter’s pilot and another military officer on board are still missing, he said.

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