Saturday, December 2, 2023

Madagascar minister swims for 12 hours to save his life

Madagascar’s police minister, Serge Gelle, swam for nearly 12 hours to reach the shore after his helicopter crashed in Indian Ocean on Tuesday. Gelle and a fellow policeman survived the deadly crash. 

The helicopter was said to have been flying him and the other passengers to inspect the site of a shipwreck on Monday which killed at least 21 people, with about 60 still missing.

The video clipping which has gone viral on social media shows the 57-year-old Gelle on a deck chair exhausted, wearing his camouflage uniform. He said, “My time to die hasn’t come yet,” adding that he is cold but not injured.

General Serge Gelle, 57, the secretary of state for the gendarmerie, was discovered in the water by a fisherman in a canoe who brought him to shore, according to officials.

Further, Serge Gelle said, “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.”

“There were four of us in the aircraft. I was seated behind the pilot,” he said of the crash on Monday evening.

“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 at work in 24 hours and said he lost his mobile phone in the crash.

The Madagascan defense ministry, in a tweet, said a search is ongoing for the remaining two passengers who were in the helicopter.

Apart from Gelle, a warrant officer named Jimmy Laitsara was discovered alive.

The cause of the helicopter crash “remains undetermined”, authorities said. Gelle said gusts of wind had destabilised the aircraft. 

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