Brother of UK woman swept away in Tongan tsunami 'hoping' she's safe

Source: 1News

The brother of a UK woman who was swept away in Saturday’s Tonga tsunami has spoken of his fears for her safety, 48 hours after her disappearance.

Much of the communication network in Tonga went down on Saturday night after it was hit by tsunami waves caused by a large eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai volcano shortly before 6pm.

UK couple, Angela Glover and her husband James had been near the water when the tsunami hit.

While James had been able to cling on to a tree, Angela lost grip and was washed away.

Nick Eleini, based in Sydney, spoke to 1News on Monday and said as soon as he heard the news Angela was missing, he booked a flight to the UK to be with his and Angela’s mother.

He said after 48 hours of her being missing, he believed her rescue would be a “body retrieval”.

“But I am hoping, it’s all I can do,” he says.

“James was able to hold on to a tree for quite some period of time,” he said.

“I don’t know if Angela was swept away immediately or whether she was swept away afterwards.”

Read more: Journalist based in Tonga describes ‘huge’ volcanic explosions

Eleini described Angela as a “great, fun girl” who was popular with locals and loved the culture.

“She really embraced it, she loved the Tongans, she just thought they were wonderful people,” he said.

“She really grew into the Tonga way of life.”

The couple have been living in Tonga since 2015. Angela was formerly working in advertising in London, while James ran a tattoo parlour.

Eleini said Angela always wanted to travel to the South Pacific, so the pair settled in Tonga and Angela started the TAWS animal rescue while James taught tattoo art.

He said the couple had four or five of their dogs with them on Saturday, which were also swept away but he understood search and rescue teams had located one of them.

He hasn't been able to speak to James yet.

Technicians have been frantically working on getting phone and internet services up and running in Tonga.

It's believed the internet cable which runs between Tonga and Fiji is intact.

An RNZAF Orion will do reconnaissance over some of Tonga’s low-lying islands to help assess damage on Monday.

A Tongan naval vessel is headed to Ha’apai as phone communication is yet to be made there.