Daughter describes ‘helpless’ wait for news of parents after Tonga tsunami

Siniva Filise's parents live in Tonga Credit: PA

A woman unable to contact her parents after a volcano erupted near Tonga has called it “one of the toughest moments” of her life.

Siniva Filise, 42, who lives in Barry, Wales, has been struggling to contact her father Fakahau Valu, 73, and her mother Lioneti Valu, 66, since Saturday morning.

The mother-of-three received word that her parents are “safe and well” through a former colleague on the island, but has not been able to speak to them directly.

An undersea volcano erupted near the Pacific nation of Tonga on Saturday, sending large tsunami waves crashing across the shore and islanders rushing to higher ground.

The eruption has prevented international communications to the island, leaving friends and family members around the world anxiously trying to get in touch with loved ones.

Siniva Filise with her mother Lioneti Valu. Credit: Siniva Filise/PA

Ms Filise told the PA news agency: “I woke up on Saturday morning and saw what was happening in Tonga on social media. I tried to call my mum but I couldn’t get through.

“It would have been the middle of the night (in Tonga) and I was just thinking about my parents in the dark, just the two of them… It was the worst feeling ever.”

After failing to contact them, Ms Filise said she decided to “chance it” and messaged a former colleague on Facebook who is a member of the armed forces in Tonga assisting on the emergency response.

She said: “International calls still can’t get through but the Armed Forces have satellite connectivity.

“I begged her to try and give them a call and I cried last night when she messaged me and said she had managed to speak to them and they were both fine.

“That’s the only the message I’ve had but it gives me a glimmer of hope, even though I haven’t been able to speak to them directly.”

Ms Filise grew up on the mainland of Tonga with her five siblings and has remained close with her family despite moving to the UK 16 years ago.

“The Tonga people are very family orientated people and even though me and my siblings are overseas, my mum will call us every morning before we go to work,” she said.

Fakahau Valu and Lioneti Valu. Credit: Siniva Filise/PA

“We are so close and we’re so used to having my mum call us that when something like (the volcanic eruption) happens… I just feel helpless.

“Tonga is still Covid-free but obviously they will have to open the borders to let international aid in, so that’s one thing to worry about on top of trying to recover from the volcano eruption and the tsunami.

“What I do know is that the people of Tonga are very resilient.”