A minister Madagascar's government has beaten the odds to survive a helicopter crash and a marathon swim. Serge Gelle, the country's secretary state police, swam to the mainland Tuesday after the helicopter he was a passenger in crashed the Indian Ocean the island's north-east coast. Mr Gelle was one of two passengers known to have survived the crash. They both swam 12 hours to reach the shore. Gelle told reporters that he used one the helicopter's seats as a flotation device. News agencies are reporting that least 39 people perished in the disaster. A police spokesperson said rescue workers had retrieved 18 bodies. He lamented that the death toll could increase the next few days.
Mr Gelle, 57, was high spirits after his rescue, despite looking totally exhausted. He managed to muster the energy to recount his ordeal to reporters. He spoke to journalists while slumped a deck chair and still wearing his camouflage uniform. He said he ejected himself the aircraft when he knew it was trouble. He became police chief earlier this year after serving the police force for three decades. His colleague offered a reason as to why he survived the crash. He said: "Gelle has always had great stamina sport, and he's kept this rhythm as minister, just like a 30-year-old. He has nerves steel." Mr Gelle said: "My time to die hasn’t come yet." The cause of the crash is currently investigation.