Boat Accident in Madagascar Kills at Least 83 People

In Summary

A boat was carrying 138 people and sank on the night of Dec. 20 even though 50 people were rescued.

In the northeastern part of Madagascar, there was a boat accident on Dec. 20 in which at least 83 people lost their lives, according to CNN

The boat was carrying 138 people when it sank and 50 people were rescued, but five are still missing. A spokesperson from the Maritime and River Port Agency (APMF) said that the “Francia” cargo ship was not approved for transporting people. 

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According to CNN, the boat was overloaded and the engine was flooded with water. Gen. Serge Gelle, who is Madagascar’s secretary of state for police, swam for almost 12 hours to shore after a search helicopter he was on crashed at sea on Dec. 20. It happened during the efforts to find survivors of the boat accident. 

In that helicopter crash, one officer survived but the pilot and second officer remain missing. Gelle said that the helicopter crashed because of “wind gusts” as he was accompanied by Prime Minister Christian Ntsay and Gen. Leon Richard Rakotonirina, the minister of national defense who was to oversee the search operations, according to CNN. 

Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina commended their efforts on Twitter, stating that he “commanded their complete devotion” to the job. 

RELATED: In southern Madagascar, ‘nothing to feed our children’

Rajoelina had announced a national mourning day for the country on Dec. 23. 

“We stand with the Malagasy people in honoring the lives lost near Soanierana Ivongo and offer our condolences to all those affected by this tragedy,” the U.S. Embassy in Madagascar said in a statement. “We will fly the U.S. flag at half-mast out of respect for those lost and in solidarity on this national day of mourning.” 

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