A minister of the Madagascar government has revealed that he swam for 12 hours to safety after his helicopter crashed at sea during a rescue mission.
“It’s not my time to die,” an exhausted Police Minister Serge Gelle said as he recovered on a stretcher.
He revealed that two other security officials travelling with him in the helicopter also survived the crash.
The trio had been scouting a region in the north-eastern part of the nation where a passenger boat had sunk.
Some 39 people died in that accident, according to officials.
Via his Twitter handle, President Andry Rajoelina mourned the deceased and also paid tribute to minister Gelle and the other two officers, who arrived in the seaside town of Mahambo separately.
It is not clear why the Monday accident happened but 57-year-old Gelle, said that after the crash, he swam from “7:30 last night, until 7:30 this morning,” to Mahambo.
He revealed that he had sustained zero injuries but was feeling really cold.
“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,” Gelle spoke to villagers at Mahambo.
According to police boss Zafisambatra Ravoavy, minister 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 30-year-old… he has nerves of steel,” Ravoavy said.
Gelle had served in the police for 30 years before his August appointment as minister.