Tonga Olympic Flagbearer Hasn’t Heard from Father Since Tsunami Hit

by Liz Holland
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A devastating Tsunami hit Tonga, a country in Oceania, on Saturday. One Olympic Tongan athlete, Pita Taufatofua, says he hasn’t heard from his father since the tragedy ravaged the country. 

An underwater volcanic eruption triggered the disaster. Experts say the event is a “Once-in-a-Millenium” occurrence. The disasters that followed the eruption from the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano caused incredible amounts of damage to the nation. 

Taufatofua has become a widely known athlete after famously marching shirtless as his country’s flagbearer at the Summer and Winter Olympics. Although the Tongan currently lives in Brisbane, Australia, he still has family in Tonga. His father, who lives on the main island of Tongatapu, has yet to contact his son after the storms. 

“I have no idea what has happened to him,” Taufatofua told CNN. “I am optimistic he will be OK, and hopefully, he is out there working in the community. That is probably my guess, but that is just me speculating.” He continues, “It is very tough, but I have no choice. In times like this, you’ve got to stand up. There are people all around the world who are standing up as well, it’s not just me, it’s many, many thousands of people.”

Volcanic Eruption Devastates Country of Tonga

The volcanic eruption extended so far that it affected all roughly 170 islands that make up the country. Despite the fact that people live on only 36 of these islands, the eruption has impacted the country’s entire population. Siaso Sovaleni, the Prime Minister of Tonga, says the disaster destroyed all 36 homes on the island of Mango. Additionally, only two homes remain on Fonoifua island. Extensive damage has also been reported on Nomuka island. 239 people call the island of Nomuka home. 

Taufatofua has established a GoFundMe fundraiser to aid in relief efforts for the islands. “We have no choice, we can’t run to our rooms and sit there and cry and wish. Now is the time for us to work and help our country,” the taekwondo athlete said. He also shares that the thick layer of ash coating the country of Tonga is causing problems with water filtration and communication. The olympian continues to be incredibly vocal about the situation on his social media pages, urging people to share the information. 

“When you are there in Tonga, everything is lush, it’s green, it’s blue, it’s full of life,” he said.”When you look at it now, it looks like a 1910 black and white film and everything is covered in ash. It’s not the Tonga you remember. If anyone out there has a spare satellite, please send it our way. Our communications were shut down.”

Olympian Asks For Help From Billionaires

He even called out to the world’s richest people to ask for their help in recovering the small nation. 

“Elon Musk, if you’re watching, send Starlink our way, we need help. We need to communicate with our loved ones.”

Taufatofua was able to verify that his family home is still standing, but has yet to speak directly to his father.

Outsider.com