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A minister in Madagascar's government has [battened / beaten] the odds to survive a helicopter crash and a marathon swim. Serge Gelle, the country's secretary of [state / stated] for police, swam to the mainland on Tuesday after the helicopter he was a passenger [at / in] crashed into the Indian Ocean [off / on] the island's north-east coast. Mr Gelle was one of two passengers [knowing / known] to have survived the crash. They both swam for 12 hours to reach the [shore / store] . Gelle told reporters that he used one of the helicopter's seats as a flotation [devil / device] . News agencies are reporting that at least 39 people [perished / pushed] in the disaster. A police spokesperson said rescue workers had [relieved / retrieved] 18 bodies. He lamented that the death [toll / atoll] could increase over the next few days.

Mr Gelle, 57, was in [high / height] spirits after his rescue, despite looking totally exhausted. He managed to muster [down / up] the energy to recount his [order / ordeal] to reporters. He spoke to journalists while [stumped / slumped] in a deck chair and still wearing his camouflage uniform. He said he [ejected / rejected] himself from the aircraft when he knew it was [in / on] trouble. He became police chief earlier this year after serving in the police force for three [decadence / decades] . His colleague offered a reason as to why he survived the crash. He said: "Gelle has always had great [stammering / stamina] in sport, and he's kept up this rhythm [as / was] minister, just like a 30-year-old. He has nerves of steel." Mr Gelle said: "My time to die hasn’t come yet." The cause of the crash is currently [over / under] investigation.

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