Madagascar: Double misfortune on the ocean

Status: 22.12.2021 6:56 p.m.

An apparently overloaded cargo ship sank off the coast of Madagascar. At least 83 people died. A military helicopter crashed on the way to the site of the accident. A State Secretary went from being a rescuer to being rescued.

Drama during salvage work after a shipwreck off Madagascar’s coast: A military helicopter with members of the government on board crashed into the Indian Ocean. State Secretary Serge Gellé and the on-board mechanic were rescued after several hours, and there is still no trace of the pilot.

After twelve hours in the water, Gellé was rescued by a fisherman and brought ashore. Because he was not wearing a life jacket, he loosened his seat and used it as a buoy, said the 57-year-old. He said he remained calm and removed all heavy objects, such as his boots and belt. “I did everything to stay alive,” said Gellé. After he was rescued, he said he was fine, just cold.

In social networks Gellé was celebrated for his show of strength, referred to as a hero or a role model. The cause of the helicopter crash has not yet been clarified, the authorities said.

State Secretary Gellé after his rescue. Before that, he swam twelve hours in the Indian Ocean.

Image: AFP

Number of victims after a ship accident increases

The situation is likely to be similar in the case of the shipwreck that triggered the flight. Water ingress in the engine room “caused the massacre,” said Maurice Tianjara, deputy director general of the Marine Agency. The boat apparently exceeded its loading capacity. About 130 people were on board the “Francia”, at least 83 drowned in the sinking. According to initial reports from the authorities, 50 passengers had been rescued. The search for more missing persons is ongoing. The passengers were illegally on board, as the “Francia” was actually only a cargo ship, a spokesman for the port authority said.

The helicopter with Gellé and another helicopter were used according to official information to fly a government delegation to the place where “Francia” sank.

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