‘Real life Aquaman’ survives after tsunami
Social media users have dubbed a 57-year-old Tongan man a “legend” and a “real life Aquaman,” referring to a popular DC comic book and film character, praising his will to survive in the face of the latest devastating tsunami.
In an interview with a local radio station, Lisala Folau recounted how he was swept out to sea by giant waves on Saturday. The man, however, maintained his composure while floating in the open sea and holding on to debris that had washed off the coast.
Incredibly, Folau proceeded to slowly but surely swim towards the archipelago's main island, reaching Tongatapu after what is estimated to have been more than 27 hours. The man covered 7.5 kilometers (4.7 miles), alternating between floating and swimming by way of two other uninhabited islands. The Guardian, citing the Tongan Broadcom FM radio station, claims the total distance was closer to 13 kilometers (8 miles).
And, if that alone wasn’t impressive enough, Folau is also disabled. Speaking to journalists, the man said he “can't walk properly … and when I can, I believe a baby can walk faster than I.”
The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Saturday triggered a powerful tsunami that left at least three people dead, and seriously damaged villages in its path.
That day, Folau was painting his house with the help of his relatives. When waves began hitting the shore, the man and his niece climbed a tree. They climbed down when they thought there was a lull – only to be swept out to sea by another large wave soon afterwards. The two called out to each other for some time as it was already dark and they could not see much. However, after a while, Folau could no longer hear his niece.
It is not clear whether or not the man's niece survived. According to media reports, her name is not featured in the official death toll.