Speed Reading — Survival - Level 5 — 200 wpm

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Madagascar's secretary of state for police has beaten the odds to survive a helicopter crash and a marathon swim. Serge Gelle, 57, swam to the mainland on Tuesday after his helicopter crashed into the Indian Ocean off the island's northeast coast. Mr Gelle was one of two passengers who survived the crash. They both swam for 12 hours to reach the shore. Gelle used one of the helicopter's seats as a flotation device. At least 39 people died in the disaster. A police spokesperson said rescue workers have found 18 bodies. He said the death toll could increase over the next few days.

Mr Gelle was in high spirits after his rescue, but looked totally exhausted. He mustered up the energy to talk about his ordeal, while slumped in a deck chair and still wearing his uniform. He said he ejected from the aircraft after he knew it was in trouble. A colleague spoke about Mr Gelle. He said: "Gelle has always had great stamina…and he's kept up this rhythm as minister, just like a 30-year-old. He has nerves of steel." Mr Gelle said: "My time to die hasn't come yet." He has served in the police force for 30 years. The cause of the crash is currently under investigation.

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