By John Ikani
A Madagascan Minister was one of two survivors to have swum some 12 hours to shore Tuesday after their helicopter crashed off the island’s northeastern coast.
The Minister, Serge Gelle who is a former policeman was on his way to inspect where a vessel sank on Monday, killing at least 21.
Gelle, the country’s Secretary of State for Police and another survivor reached land in the seaside town of Mahambo separately on Tuesday morning, apparently after ejecting themselves from the aircraft, Port Authority Chief Jean-Edmond Randrianantenaina said.
In a video shared on social media, 57-year-old Gelle appears lying exhausted on a deck chair, still in his camouflage uniform.
“My time to die hasn’t come yet,” says the General, adding that he is cold but not injured.
Gella became Minister as part of a Cabinet reshuffle in August after serving in the police for three decades.
At least 21 people have died and around 60 gone missing in that disaster, according to the latest official toll on Tuesday.
Zafisambatra Ravoavy, another Police General, told AFP that Gelle had used one of the helicopter’s seats as a flotation device.
“He has always had great stamina in sport, and he’s kept up this rhythm as minister, just like a thirty-year-old,” he said.
“He has nerves of steel.”