83 dead in Madagascar shipwreck; police chief swims 12 hours after helo crashes

A photo made available by Madagascar's Ministry of Defense shows the wreck of the boat "Francia" after it was towed ashore near off Mahambo, northeastern Madagascar, on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Madagascar Defense Ministry/Twitter

Dec. 23 (UPI) — Madagascar’s Maritime and River Port Agency said Wednesday at least 83 people were killed when a ship sank. A helicopter carrying government officials to the accident scene also crashed, forcing a minister to swim 12 hours to survive.

The ship was carrying 138 people.

By Wednesday afternoon 50 survivors were found from Monday’s shipwreck off Madagascar’s northeastern coast.

The River Port Agency said the wrecked ship, the Francia, was an overloaded cargo vessel not authorized to transport people.

The crashed helicopter was carrying four people, including Madagascar Secretary of State for Police Gen. Serge Gelle. Gelle and a fellow officer survived after swimming 12 hours to shore on Tuesday.

Two occupants of the helicopter, including the pilot, were still missing Wednesday.

Gelle said the chopper crashed when winds gusted as it flew low over the water.

Prime Minister Christian Ntsay and Minister of National Defense Gen. Leon Richard Rakotonirina traveled to the shipwreck in a separate helicopter.

Searches for more survivors were paused Wednesday afternoon due to bad weather. They planned to resume Thursday.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here