Politics

‘Aquaman’ reveals how he survived 28-hour swim after tsunami


A Tongan man who swam for 28 hours after getting swept out to sea during Saturday’s devastating tsunami has spoken about his epic swim.

In an interview with, and translated by, Tongan radio station Broadcom, Lisala Folau recounted the ordeal which left him lucky to be alive.

Lisala Folau swam for 28 hours following being swept out to sea during Saturday’s tsunami. (Supplied)

A social media post described the 57-year-old as a “real life Aquaman”.

Mr Folau lives on the small, isolated island of Atata, which is about 8km north-west of Tonga’s capital Nuku’alofa, or a 30-minute boat ride.

Only 61 people lived on the island paradise, which includes the Royal Sunset Island Resort.

Mr Folau was alerted to the tsunami by his brother and hid up a tree. However, once he got down after the first wave, a bigger wave arrived and swept him and his family out to sea. He has four children.

He thinks the wave was bigger than 6m.

“It was dark and we could not see each other. Very soon I could not hear my niece calling any more, but I could hear my son calling,” he said.

Lisala Folau, second from left, pictured after the ordeal as he told his story to the Tongan radio station Broadcom. (Broadcom/Supplied)

Mr Folau didn’t respond as he didn’t want anyone to risk their safety trying to save him.

Extraordinarily, he has mobility issues.

“I left everything and try to escape, but bear in mind that I am disabled,” he said.

“I can’t walk properly, both my legs are not working properly – and when I can, I believe a baby can walk faster than I.

“So I just floated, bashed around by the big waves that kept coming. It stayed with my mind if I can cling to a tree or anything and if anything happens and I lose my life, searchers may find me and my family can view my dead body.”

A police boat sped past as Mr Folau waved a rag, but it missed him.

Mr Folau said thinking about his family kept him swimming.

Eventually, he reached Tongatapu some time after 9pm on Sunday, where he found a man who was able to get in contact with his family.

“So unexpected that I survived after being washed away, floating and surviving the dangers I just faced,” he said.

Mr Folau thanked God, his family, and his church for giving him the strength to survive.

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows the main port facilities in Nuku’alofa, Tonga. (AP)

An image uploaded to Facebook by the man’s daughter showed his journey through the ocean.

She described his disappearance as a “night of hardship” and said she couldn’t stop tears falling while he was missing.

The daughter said she was proud of her father’s bravery and in her post thanked Jesus for protecting him.

Atata Island has now been evacuated; he UN says every building on the island is either damaged or “potentially damaged” and there is no drinking water.

One death is reported from the island. Atata is only 50km from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano that erupted sending a tsunami directly toward the island.

A Go Fund Me page has been created by one of the resort’s owners to raise money for repairing the village.

A Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster III aircraft delivers the first load of Australian Aid to Tonga's Fua'Amoto international airport on 20 January 2022.
A Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster III aircraft delivers the first load of Australian Aid to Tonga’s Fua’Amoto international airport. (Australian Defence Force)

On Wednesday evening some communication links were restored between the country and the outside world.

Volcano eruption near Tonga looper

Blast so big it was seen from space

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the interim system had been established using the University of South Pacific’s satellite dish on the largest island, Tongatapu.

It was a 2G connection, which would be “limited and patchy”, covering about 10 per cent of usual capacity, the ministry said.

This story first appeared on Stuff and is republished here with permission.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

close