Enrichment Arts & Culture

Tongan man reportedly swims for 27 hours after being swept to sea by tsunami

Story at a glance

  • A 57-year-old Tongan man reportedly swam for 27 hours after being swept to sea in Saturday’s tsunami.
  • “I just floated, bashed around by the big waves that kept coming. Bear in mind that I am disabled. I can’t walk properly,” he said.
  • Folau said he kept floating before completing the 4.7-mile swim to the shore of the main island of Tongatapu.

A 57-year-old Tongan man reportedly swam for 27 hours after being swept to sea in Saturday’s tsunami on the island nation.  

 

Lisala Folau, who lives on the small island of Atata — about 5 miles from the Tongan capital — told the media agency Broadcom Broadcasting he was swept away around 7 p.m. Saturday shortly after hearing of the tsunami from his brother, according to Reuters 

Folau told the station he initially climbed a tree before being whisked away by a wave.  

“I just floated, bashed around by the big waves that kept coming. Bear in mind that I am disabled. I can’t walk properly,” he said, according to USA Today. 


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Folau said he kept floating before completing the 4.7-mile swim to the shore of the main island of Tongatapu by 10 p.m. on Sunday.  

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted Saturday, killing at least three people, and sending tsunami waves rolling to wreak havoc on the nation.  

The first humanitarian aid reportedly arrived on the South Pacific Island nation on Thursday, five days after the disaster. 


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