“It was manna from God”: Tongan man survives 27 hours at sea and thanks God after tsunami

A Tongan tells local radio about his 27-hour survival at sea and the heartbreaking way he survived the tsunami.

Lisala Folau is Tongan. ÂAged 57 and disabled, he survived 27 hours at sea, swept away by the tsunami caused by the eruption of the underwater volcano. He testified to the Tongan radio Broadcom FM of this extraordinary story, and he affirms it, his salvation is due to "the manna of God".

“And it was manna from God for me and my family, and the church as well as Atata, so unexpected that I survived being swept away, floating and surviving the dangers I had just faced. »

His testimony, one of the first to come from the Tonga Islands almost cut off from the world, was transcribed on Facebook by George Lavaka, radio editor.

Saturday afternoon, he was doing work in the family home when the tsunami hit his island. Informed of the situation by his brother, he tries to take shelter.

“I can't walk properly, both my legs don't work properly and when I can walk I believe a baby can walk faster than me. »

His brother and his nephew manage to come to his aid when a wave has flooded the living room. Then a second wave arrives, high according to him of 6 meters. The man then deplores his inability to help his family.

With his nephew and his niece, he climbs a tree. During a lull, the three attempt to return home.

“It was cold and my feet could barely move. Just then, my older brother shouted to us that a big wave was coming. I just turned and watched the wave, it was a 6 foot wave that destroyed our house. »

The wave hit them hard.

“When the wave broke on land just below us, my niece Elisiva and I had nothing to hold on to and we were swept out to sea. It was 19 p.m. »

Lisala Folau explains that it was night and they kept calling each other to find out where they were. Then he had no more response from his niece, but he still heard the voice of his son who was looking for him. Refusing that the latter risks his life to save him, he made the choice not to answer him anymore.

“No son can abandon his father. But for me, as a father, I kept my silence because if I answered him, he would jump in the water and try to save me. But I understood the difficult situation and I said to myself if the worst happens, let it be just me. I thought if I answered him he would come and we would both suffer, so I just floated, hit by the big waves that kept coming. »

On Sunday morning, around 7 am according to him, he crossed paths with a police boat patrol; He then attempted to wave to the boat with a rag. Without success.

Around 10 o'clock, he tells himself that he must be able to get to the island of Polo'a. He will get there after 8 hours.

“I called and shouted for help but no one was there. »

Thinking of his family, he then decides to go to Sopu. He again accomplishes a feat, and arrives on the beach around 21 p.m. From there, he crawls on the tarmac, then walks with the help of a piece of wood.

“I crawled from there to the end of the tarmac road near the fishing complex and found a piece of wood that held me up like a walking stick. »

He ends up crossing paths with a taxi driver who took him home. The people of this village were shocked at his survival.

The survivor ends his testimony by thanking the church leader, the municipal officer, and the whole country for their prayers;

“I know you prayed for me during the trials I went through. »

His son, Talivakaola Folau, says on Facebook that he will never forget this story.

“A story I will never forget in my life… While talking with my family in Tonga, my tears continued to flow thinking of my father swimming in the ocean after the tsunami hit. My heart breaks imagining you drinking sea water Daddy, but you are a strong willed man. »

Erika Radewagen is the president of Samoa Swimming Federation. She returned to the exploit of Lisala Folau with the Guardian. It recalls the feat of this man who was fleeing an erupting volcano and a tsunami, in the middle of "ashes, debris, waves".

"It's absolutely incredible, given that he was fleeing a catastrophic event, to be under that kind of pressure, mentally and with the added physical pressure of fleeing in the dark. Even very experienced swimmers have physical limitations and set parameters, but it takes a different mindset to do what he did. It's not like he fell off a boat, he escaped from an erupting volcano, swept away by a tsunami. There are more physical obstacles, such as ash, debris, waves, and other factors that would have made swimming much more difficult. »

We don't know what happened to the niece. However, no victim from his city is currently to be deplored.


Image credit: Creative Commons / Flickr

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