'Life and death' at sea: Tonga's 'Aquaman' is preventing the boat from going under

'Life and death' at sea: Tonga's 'Aquaman' is preventing the boat from going under ...

A 57-year-old Tongan man who survived the devastating tsunami on his island said he was under nine times before latching onto a log and achieving safety.

Lisala Folau, who is disabled and cannot walk properly, spoke to Reuters from Tonga's capital, Nuku'alofa.

"So the ninth time I went under and came up and grabbed a log, and that's what kept me going."

At least three people have died and hundreds of tsunami waves have struck the Tongan archipelago, causing damage to local towns and resorts, causing disruption to communications for the country's 105,000 people.

On Saturday, Folau, who lived on the isolated island of Atata, had a population of about 60 people.

He had climbed a tree to escape a first wave, but as he slowed down, another big wave swept him out.

"I could hear my son's call from the land, but I didn't want to answer my son, because he didn't want him to swim out to find me," said Folau.

"The waves kept twirling around here and there,... What came to mind was that at sea there is life and death. Until you reach the shore, then you know if you are alive or dead."

Folau said on Sunday that he slowly managed to swim 7.5 km (4.7 miles) to Tongatapu's main island, reaching the shore 27 hours later.

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.

Flolau said he wasn't interested in the Aquaman as he knew him.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the events.

In the tsunami that has ravaged the islands, Atata, about 8 km northwest of Nuku'alofa.

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