NEWS: Madagascar
Minister swims 12 hours in ocean after helicopter crash.

Mada­gas­car’s police min­is­ter and an air force mechan­ic man­aged to swim for 12 hours to safe­ty after their heli­copter crashed in the Indi­an Ocean.

Gen­er­al Serge Gelle, 57, Sec­re­tary of State for the Gen­darmerie, was dis­cov­ered in the water by a fish­er­man in a canoe who brought him ashore, offi­cials said.

“My turn to die has not yet come, thank good­ness. I’m well. I’m just cold, ”Gelle said in a video post­ed on Twit­ter by Mada­gas­car’s defense min­istry. “But I’m sad because I don’t know if my friends are alive.”

“There were four of us on the plane. I was sit­ting behind the pilot, ”he said of Mon­day night’s crash.

“Not hav­ing a life jack­et, I unfas­tened the seat and used it as a buoy. I stayed calm and took off any­thing heavy I was car­ry­ing, like my boots and belt. I did every­thing to stay alive, “he said. Gelle said he expect­ed to be back to work in 24 hours and said he lost his cell phone in the crash.

Many in Mada­gas­car have applaud­ed Gelle’s achieve­ment, call­ing him a “hero”, “ath­lete extra­or­di­nary” and “a role mod­el” on social media.

The cause of the heli­copter crash “remains unde­ter­mined,” author­i­ties said. Gelle said gusts of wind desta­bi­lized the plane. The heli­copter pilot and anoth­er pas­sen­ger are still missing.

The heli­copter was one of two fly­ing a gov­ern­ment del­e­ga­tion to vis­it the site where a ship, the Fran­cia, sank, drown­ing at least 64 peo­ple on board.

The small car­go ship sank Mon­day while ille­gal­ly car­ry­ing 138 peo­ple, accord­ing to a state­ment released Wednes­day by the Mar­itime and Riv­er Ports Agency.

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