Diplomat says Tongan survival story fits with events

The unimaginable story of a retired carpenter who survived in a single day within the ocean after the Tonga tsunami swept him out to sea appeared to suit with events on the time, a high New Zealand official says

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The unimaginable story of a retired carpenter who survived in a single day within the ocean after the Tonga tsunami swept him out to sea appeared to suit with events on the time, a New Zealand diplomat mentioned Friday.

“It’s one in every of these miracles that occurs,” mentioned Acting High Commissioner Peter Lund on a satellite tv for pc telephone from Tonga, the place communications stay patchy.

The story of 57-year-old Lisala Folau, who has disabilities that make strolling troublesome, has captivated individuals in Tonga and all over the world. Some have affectionately dubbed him “Aquaman.”

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In a translated interview with Tonga’s BroadCom Broadcasting, Folau mentioned he was swept out to sea at about 7 p.m. Saturday from his dwelling on Atata island and floated in a single day earlier than making landfall on an uninhabited island.

From there, he mentioned that he drifted or swam one other eight hours to a second abandoned island earlier than lastly swimming once more to the primary island of Tongatapu, a complete journey of greater than 7.5 kilometers (4.7 miles) unfold over 26 hours.

Lund mentioned that when he had his first briefing with Tongan authorities officers on Sunday, the day after the tsunami however earlier than Folau was discovered, they informed him an individual was lacking from Atata island.

“And they weren’t very optimistic about it,” Lund mentioned.

But officers later revised their figures to point nobody was lacking from the island.

In an interview with Britain’s Sky News, Folau described how he felt in the course of the expertise.

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“The scariest half to me in the course of the ordeal was when the waves took me from land into the ocean,” he mentioned.

“What got here into my thoughts once I was helpless at sea have been two issues,” he added. “One, that I nonetheless had religion in God. Two, is my household. And I solely keep in mind how my household will suppose, at that second, ‘Maybe he died.’”

Folau mentioned he had been working at his dwelling doing a little portray when his brother informed him a tsunami wave was shifting towards the tiny island, which has a inhabitants of about 60.

A video was shot the subsequent day on Atata by Folau’s son Koli Folau, who went trying to find his father. The video reveals that nearly nothing was left standing on the island apart from a church, the place lots of the villagers took shelter.

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