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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Tongan spent 27 hours at sea after being swept away by tsunami

A 57-year-old Tongan man says he survived for 27 hours at sea after being washed away during last Saturday’s tsunami.

Lisala Folau, who has a handicap and can’t walk properly, said she went underwater nine times before clinging to a log and making it safe.

“For the eighth time I thought, the next time I go underwater, it’s because my arms were the only things keeping me above the water,” Mr Folau told from Nuku’alofa, the capital of Tonga.

“So for the ninth time I went downstairs and came up and grabbed a log. And that’s what was driving me.”

The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Hapai volcano killed at least three people and triggered tsunami waves across the Tongan archipelago, damaging villages and resorts and cutting off communications for 105,000 people in the country.

Mr Folau, who lives on the island of Atata, which has a population of about 60 people, was washed away in the sea at around 7 pm on Saturday.

He had climbed a tree to escape the first wave but when he came down, another big wave carried him away.

“The waves swirled here and there… What came to mind is that there is life and death in the sea. You don’t know whether you are alive or dead until you reach the shore.”

The tsunami was triggered by a volcanic eruption.,Supplied: NZDF,

Mr Folau said he managed to reach the main island Tongatapu by slowly swimming 7.5 km, and reached the shore 27 hours later, around 10 pm on Sunday.

His heroics have gone viral on social media, with a Facebook post calling him the “real-life Aquaman”, referring to the character from the comic book and film.

was unable to independently confirm the events.

Atata, about 8 kilometers northwest of Nuku’alofa, or a 30-minute boat ride, has been almost completely destroyed in the tsunami that hit the islands.

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Tonga shows first land photos after massive eruption and tsunami

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