A 57-year-old Tongan is being hailed as the real-life Aquaman, after surviving 27 hours at sea after a devastating tsunami hit his island on Saturday (15). The man said he sank nine times before he was able to grab hold of a log and stay safe.
“The eighth time I thought, the next time I’m pulled underwater this is it, because my arms were the only things keeping me above water,” said Lisala Folau, who is disabled and has trouble walking, to Reuters in Nuku’alofa, the capital of Tonga.
“Then the ninth time I went under and I climbed back up, I grabbed a log. And that’s what kept me going.”
The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano killed at least three people and sent tsunami waves through the Tonga archipelago, destroying villages and resorts and disrupting communication for the country’s 105,000 people.
Folau, who lived on the isolated island of Atata with a population of around 60 people, was washed out to sea on Saturday night.
He had climbed a tree to escape a first wave, but when he came down, another big wave swept him away.
“I could hear my son calling me ashore, but I didn’t want to answer him because I didn’t want him to swim out to try and find me,” Folau said.
“The waves kept turning from side to side […] What came to my mind is that in the sea there is life and death. It’s only when you get to the beach that you know if you’re dead or alive.”
Folau said he managed to slowly swim 7.5 kilometers to the main island of Tongatapu, reaching shore 27 hours later on Sunday night.
His heroics went viral on social media, with a Facebook post calling him the “real-life Aquaman”, referring to the character in the comics and film.
When asked if he knew who Aquaman was, Folau said he still didn’t.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the information.
The island of Atata, which is about 8 kilometers northwest of Nuku’alofa and a 30-minute boat ride away, was mostly destroyed by the tsunami that hit the islands.
This content was originally created in English.
Reference: CNN Brasil