Daughter 'relieved' after finally speaking to parents after they were cut off by Tonga tsunami

  • Sinva Filise speaks to ITV Wales reporter Hamish Auskerry.

A woman who was unable to contact her parents for a week after a volcano erupted near Tonga has described finally hearing their voices again as the "best sound in the world."

One week on, many families are still unable to contact loved ones after an undersea volcano erupted near Tonga on January 15, sending a tsunami across its shores and damaging ocean cables.

UN humanitarian officials report more than 80% of Tonga’s population have been impacted by the deadly Hunga Tonga eruption, that has left the Pacific Island nation reeling as it grapples with injuries, loss of homes and polluted water.

Sinva Filise, who lives in Barry, Wales, had been struggling to contact her father Fakahau Valu, 73, and her mother Lioneti Valu, 66, since the eruption prevented international communications with the island.

Fakahau Valu and Lioneti Valu Credit: left

The force of the explosion and resulting tsunami caused severe damage to the undersea communications cable connecting Tonga to the world.

Sinva, 42, said she had been told by a friend that her parents were "well and they send their love".

But the mother-of-three said she was still "desperate" to talk to them herself.

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

"It's like watching something so horrible live from afar and you can't even lift a finger to help." She said.

"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.”

A damaged church on the Tongan island of Atata Credit: Broadcom Broadcasting via AP

Sinva said she has a very "close" relationship with her mother and so she felt "helpless" when the volcanic eruption happened.

Finally, on Friday, January 21, she was able to talk to her mother over a crackling phone line after many days of no direct communication.

Sinva said, "The feeling of relief when I heard her voice, and all the worry that I went through, and she said... 'oh how are you?'"

"'Oh we are fine', it [was] like nothing major happened. And it's a typical Tongan response. They are very resilient."

The landscape in Tonga has been blackened by the eruption. Credit: Maxar Technologies

"Just to hear her voice, it's the best sound in the world."

The first flights carrying fresh water and other aid to Tonga finally arrived 4 days ago after the island’s main airport runway was cleared of ash.

Water supplies in Tonga had been severely impacted by the volcanic eruption.

Sinva said, “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."