‘Not my time to die!’ Madagascan minister swims for 12h to save his life after crash

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Police Minister Serge Gelle was part of a team searching the northeast coast of the country after a cargo ship illegally carrying 130 passengers sank, killing at least 19 people. According to the officials, 66 more people are missing following that incident.

Mr Gelle was recovered on a stretcher after surviving the crash and swimming in the water for hours.

He told the Sky News: “It’s not my time to die,” after the remains of the helicopter were later found at the bottom of the ocean.

He added: “I am alive, I arrived safely in Mahambo and I am grateful to all fishers and villagers of Mahambo, also to the hotel manager Mr Jason.

“I have been swimming from yesterday at 7:30am to today at 7:30pm.”

The ship, Francia, had left the city of Antanambe in the early hours of Monday before heading south.

Jean Edmond Randrianantenaina, director-general of the Maritime and River Port Agency told Sky News that it was registered as a cargo ship so was not authorised to carry passengers and Antanambe is not an official port.

A hole in the ship’s hull is believed to have caused it to sink.

Mr Randrianantenaina told the publication: “According to the information we were able to gather, water entered the engine room.

“The water started to rise and it swallowed up all the engines.

“Then the ship began to sink.

“We don’t know exactly what time the water started to rise, but our interventions began around 9 am.”

Two other security officials who had been with him in the helicopter also survived.

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Three boats from the national navy and the maritime agency are continuing the search for those still missing.

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