At least 83 people dead after boat sinks off Madagascar coast

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Authorities said 83 people died and five more were still missing Wednesday after a boat sank off the northeastern coast of Madagascar.

The boat was carrying 138 people when it sank late Monday night, CNN reported. Fifty of the passengers were rescued.

Trouble began when the engine broke, leaving the boat, a cargo vessel named Francia, at the mercy of the sea, officials told Agence France-Presse. It eventually ended up stuck on a reef, one official said.

The boat was not meant to carry people, AFP reported. One Madagascar maritime official said the boat was overloaded and water flooded the engine. Another blamed a technical problem for the engine failure.

On Tuesday, a rescue helicopter carrying Madagascar’s chief of police Serge Gelle and three others crashed in high winds near the shipwreck site, according to CNN. Gelle and another man miraculously made their way back to shore in a meandering 12-hour journey through treacherous waters.

“My time to die hasn’t come yet,” the defiant general said in a video shared by Madagascar’s military. He added that he was cold and tired, but not hurt.

Gelle said he used a pilot’s seat cushion as a flotation device at some points and made it within 500 meters of land before the waves pushed him back, Reuters reported. A local fisherman spotted Gelle, went back to shore to grab a bigger canoe and then gave Gelle a ride back to land.

It’s unknown how the other man made it back. He and Gelle arrived at different locations at different times in the town of Mahambo, according to AFP.

The pilot of the helicopter is still missing, CNN reported. The remaining passenger, Olivier Andrianambinina, was declared dead after his body was found Tuesday.

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