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Diplomat says Tonga’s survival story matches events

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Diplomat says Tonga’s survival story matches events

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The incredible story of a retired carpenter who survived overnight in the ocean after the Tonga tsunami swept him out to sea seemed to fit the events of the time, a senior New Zealand official has said .

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – The incredible story of a retired carpenter who survived the night in the ocean after the Tonga tsunami swept him out to sea seems to fit the events of the time, says a New Zealand diplomat on Friday.

“This is one of those miracles happening,” Acting High Commissioner Peter Lund said on a satellite phone from Tonga, where communications remain patchy.

The story of Lisala Folau, 57, who has a disability that makes it difficult to walk, has captivated Tonga and the world. Some affectionately nicknamed him “Aquaman”.

In a translated interview with Tonga’s BroadCom Broadcasting, Folau said he was carried out to sea around 7 p.m. Saturday from his home on Atata Island and floated overnight before making landfall on an uninhabited island.

From there he said he drifted or swam another eight hours to a second desert island before finally swimming again to the main island of Tongatapu, a total trip of over 7.5 kilometers (4.7 miles) spread over 26 hours.

Lund said during his first briefing with Tongan government officials on Sunday, the day after the tsunami but before Folau was found, they told him that a person was missing from Atata Island.

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

But officials later revised their figures to say no one was missing on the island.

In an interview with Britain’s Sky News, Folau described how he felt during the experience.

“The scariest part for me during the ordeal was when the waves took me from land to sea,” he said.

“What came to mind when I was helpless at sea were two things,” he added. “One is that I always had faith in God. Two is my family. And I only remember how my family will think, at that moment, ‘Maybe he’s dead. ‘

Folau said he was working at home painting when his brother told him that a tsunami wave was heading towards the small island, which is home to about 60 people.

A video was shot the next day on Atata by Folau’s son, Koli Folau, who had gone in search of his father. The video shows that there was almost nothing left on the island other than a church, where many villagers took refuge.

Diplomat says Tonga’s survival story matches events

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