One of the first survivor stories of the volcanic eruption and tsunami off Tonga comes from a man who says he swam for more than 24 hours for more than 24 hours between the islands of the Pacific archipelago.
Lisala Fulau from Atata Island tells his story on local radio station Broadcom FM. The editor of that program put the text of the interview on Facebook.
Fulau has a physical disability that prevents him from walking properly. At the time of the tsunami warning, he was painting his house. He hid inside, but when a meter high wave approached, he climbed a tree with his niece. It was around 7pm on a Saturday.
“When the wave hit the land just below us, there was nothing left for us to cling to and the sea carried us away. We drifted and called each other. It was so dark we couldn’t see each other. Soon we heard my voice calling no longer my niece, but my son.”
Fulao decided not to answer. “No son can abandon his father. As a father, I remained silent, because if I answered, he would try to save me. But the situation was difficult and I thought: When the worst comes, I will only strike.”
The police boat didn’t see him
Drift with a piece of a tree towards Toketoke Island (about 4.5 kilometers from Atata), he said. He saw a police boat and waved a piece of cloth, but they didn’t see it and set sail. Then try to reach the island of Bolu. “I still had some energy. When I arrived around six, I called for help but no one was there.” However, he felt strongly at the idea that he could also reach another island.
It happened around 9 p.m. that night, about 26 hours after he was kicked out of his house. In Sobu on the main island of Tongatapu, he crawled and walked down a path with a piece of wood he had found as a walking stick. There he was picked up by someone who passed by. “The villagers were shocked that I survived.” It is not known whether his relatives survived as well.
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