Tongan man swept away by tsunami returns to life after 27 hours at sea

Disabled people with difficulty walking 13km drifting and swimming through two uninhabited islands

Talking about life through social media… “Real Aquaman”

(Seoul = Yonhap News) Reporter Jae-eun Jang = Local media reported on the 20th (local time) that a man who was swept into the sea when a tsunami struck Tonga, an island country in the South Pacific, came back alive.

Daily newspapers such as The Guardian and The Independent quoted an interview with Tonga radio broadcast ‘Broadcom FM’ on the same day and reported the life story of Risala Polau (57).

Paulau, a retired carpenter, lived on the small island of Atata, north of the main island of Tonga.

Paula (center) brings a dramatic rebirth from the Tonga tsunami disaster

[로이터 연합뉴스. DB 및 재판매 금지]

On the 15th, when an undersea volcano erupted and high waves began to rise, Paulau was painting the house. It was just when my brother and niece came to help Paulau.

Then the waves came closer than usual, and then fell again and again.

The wave was enough to wet the living room at first, but later it turned into a tsunami of more than 6 meters and hit his house directly.

“There was nothing to catch,” Paulau recalled at the time.

It was around 7 pm and the sun had already set and it was dark enough that I could not see ahead.

He said he even thought that if he died while holding onto a tree trunk, his family might be able to retrieve his own body later.

Polau arrived overnight on the waves to the nearby uninhabited island of Toketoke.

A Tongan police patrol boat passed the neighborhood on the morning of the 16th, but passed by as if he had not seen him waving a cloth to call for help.

However, he was not disappointed and vowed to live his life.

We left Toketoke Island around 10 am and continued swimming until we arrived at the nearby Pola Island around 6 pm.

I screamed at the island, but there was no response. Tonga is an archipelago made up of about 170 islands, of which only 36 are inhabited.

“I thought I was alive then,” Paulau said.

Tongatapu, the main island of Tonga in the South Pacific from green to gray
Tongatapu, the main island of Tonga in the South Pacific from green to gray

(Kaokupolu AFP = Yonhap News) The European Union’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite took over the town of Kanokupolu on Tongatapu, the largest island in the South Pacific, on the 8th (local time) and on the 17th, two days after the eruption of a submarine volcanic eruption. These photos were taken and released on the 18th. In these photos, you can see how the village, which was normally green, was covered with volcanic ash after the volcanic eruption and turned gray. [EU 제공. 마케팅 및 광고 금지]. 2022.1.19 [email protected]

His will to survive has now turned to the main island.

“My younger sister, who has diabetes, and my youngest daughter, who has heart disease, have dazzled eyes,” Paulau said.

In the end, Polau did his best to swim to Tongatapu, the main island of Tonga, and was rescued by catching a passing car on an asphalt road.

It took Polau 27 hours to reach the main island via two uninhabited islands, and the distance traveled was 13 km.

Reuters reported that his story was spreading rapidly on social media in Tonga, with one user calling him “a real Aquaman.” As it was also known that he was a handicapped person with disabilities, his vitality drew more attention.

The life or death of Paulau’s niece and niece is unknown, The Guardian reported, but there were no Atata residents among the three deaths confirmed by authorities.

The international community has launched full-scale support for Tonga, which is experiencing a shortage of drinking water due to the destruction of infrastructure due to volcanic ash and tsunami.

On that day, a flight with relief supplies from neighboring countries Australia and New Zealand arrived in Tonga for the first time since the disaster.

UN spokeswoman Stefan Dujaric said that Tonga had requested emergency aid and had closely consulted with the authorities and began an investigation into the local situation.

Tonga beach hit by tsunami in aftermath of 'undersea volcanic eruption'
Tonga beach hit by tsunami in the aftermath of ‘undersea volcanic eruption’

(AP = Yonhap News) A tsunami destroys facilities on the beach of Nuku’alofa, the capital of Tonga in the South Pacific, a country affected by an undersea volcanic eruption on the 20th (local time). The tsunami and ash from the underwater volcanic eruption that occurred on the 15th affected 84,000 people, more than 80% of the total population, and the shortage of drinking water is also known to be serious. [브로드컴 방송 제공. 재판매 및 DB 금지]. 2022.1.20 [email protected]

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