Interviews with Survivors and Eyewitnesses

Below is a series of videos I filmed and edited highlighting some of the amazing stories of escape and survival that occurred during the tsunami caused by the eruption of Tonga’s Hunga Volcano. The interviews were recorded in October 2022, 8 months after the tsunami and are cut together with footage from the tsunami aftermath provided by the Tonga Geological Services and some videos filmed by people who experienced the event first hand.

Support for this project was provided by SPC – The Pacific Community and ITIC – The International Tsunami Information Center. Special thanks to Litea Biukoto of SPC, Dr. Laura Kong of ITIC, Taaniela Kula of the Tonga Geological Services and Ofa Fa’anunu of Tonga Meteorological Services

Part 1: Introduction

The shore video below introduces the Hunga Volcano Tsunami event.

Part 2: Hiva’s House

Hiva Vaitohi describes seeing the eruption and the start of the tsunami. She then describes how she and her family escaped before the largest waves came in.

Part 3: Tita’s Experience

Tita Vunibola went to Nuku’alofa for the day. She returned home to find out that a tsunami disaster was unfolding in her village.

Part 4: Ana’s Miracle

Ana chose not to evacuate from her home in Kanokupolu. She stayed behind as the tsunami raged around her, flooding her home and destroying other houses nearby. Her house was spared.

Part 5: The Boys on The Beach

A sunny Saturday is a great day to spend at the beach. But not when there is a tsunami going on. This video shows a survivor’s eye view as two carloads of friends narrowly escape the waves at Ha’atafu Beach on the West Coast of Tongatapu.

Part 6: Moana’s Escape

The video below is narrated by Moana Paea, proprietor of the Ha’atafu Beach Resort in Western Tongatapu. Their area was one of the hardest hit from the tsunami and this resort, along with many others along the coast were completely destroyed. Here Moana describes in her own words how she and her staff safely evacuated a number of guests and then got themselves to safety as the tsunami was affecting the coast.