For 27 hours, he rode the tsunami waves in the choppy sea, till a log came his way and he managed to keep afloat. This 57-year-old Tongan man has not only defied Saturday’s devastating tsunami that
struck the island. He has scripted his own story of will and grit in the face of earth-shattering and ocean-belly churning odds!
His heroics have gone viral on social media, with one Facebook post calling him a “real life Aquaman,” referring to the comic book and film character.
“On the eighth time I thought, the next time I go underwater that’s it, because my arms were the only things that were keeping me above water,” Lisala Folau, who is disabled and cannot walk properly, is reported to have shared with scribes from Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa. “The ninth time I went under and came up and grabbed a log. And that’s what kept me afloat.”
The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano killed at least three people and sent tsunami waves rolling across the Tongan archipelago, damaging villages and resorts and knocking out communications for the nation’s 105,000 people.
Folau, who lived on the isolated island of Atata, with a population of about 60 people, was swept out to sea on Saturday evening. Atata, about 8 kilometers (4.9 miles) northwest of Nuku’alofa, or a 30- minute boat ide, has been almost entirely destroyed in the tsunami that hit the islands.
He had climbed a tree to escape a first wave but when he got down, another big wave swept him out. “I could hear my son calling from land but I didn’t want to answer my son because I didn’t want him to
swim out to find me,” he added.
Folau said he slowly managed to swim 7.5 kilometers (4.7 miles) to the main island of Tongatapu, reaching the shore 27 hours later on Sunday night.