A British woman who lost her grip on a tree while desperately trying to save her dogs has been confirmed as the first fatality in the massive Tonga volcanic eruption and resulting tsunami.
Angela Glover, originally from Brighton, had been caught in the surging tide after an undersea volcano erupted on Saturday.
Glover had shared a tragic final Instagram post of a beautiful sunset after an earlier eruption of the underwater volcano, telling friends and family "everything's fine" despite the country being on tsunami watch.
The 50-year-old, who ran an animal rescue shelter in Tonga with her husband, James, was said to have been washed away while trying to rescue her dogs. Her husband survived.
Glover's brother, Nick Eleini, confirmed that a body had been found in the search for his sister.
"I've not even got the words in my vocabulary to describe how we're feeling at the moment. This is just a terrible shock, that it's happened to us. We're ordinary people – stuff like this doesn't happen to people like us, then it does," he told Sky News outside the family address in Hove, East Sussex. He had flown back from his home in Australia to be with his family.
"The confirmation came about six hours ago when I was on a stopover in Dubai. There had been a search party that was going on and I believe James found the body, it was in some bushes.
"I understand this terrible accident came about as they tried to rescue their dogs. Angela and James loved their life in Tonga and adored the Tonga people."
Paying tribute to his sister, he added: "She was beautiful, she was absolutely a ray of sunshine. She would walk into a room and just light the room up. She loved her life, both when she was working in London and then she achieved her life's dream of living in the South Pacific.
"We are so proud of her achievements in such a short time in Tonga, starting a business and creating a life there. She loved animals and dogs particularly – the uglier the dog, the more she loved it. She was just a lovely girl; she was the centre of our family and we are just broken."
James Glover was said to have been able to cling on to a tree to avoid being washed away when the tsunami hit, but Angela Glover lost her grip. The couple had been living in Tonga since 2015.
A satellite image of Saturday's eruption. Photo / NICT via AP
The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano exploded on Saturday, cloaking Tonga in a film of ash, triggering a Pacific-wide tsunami and releasing shock waves that wrapped around the entire earth.
But with phone lines still down and an undersea internet cable cut – and not expected to be repaired for weeks – the true toll of the dual eruption-tsunami disaster is not yet known.
Only fragments of information have filtered out via a handful of satellite phones on the islands, home to just over 100,000 people, and Tonga's overseas community faces an anxious wait to check on their relatives' welfare.
Mosese Sitapa, one of more than 30,000 Tongans in Australia, said he was video calling his four-year-old son, Elone, when the tsunami smashed through their home in Tonga.
"I just talked to him and he kept playing with his toys. It was so sad," he said. He hasn't heard from Elone or his mother since.
Lupe Fisi'ikaile, a Tongan living in the Australian capital, told the Canberra Times she had not been able to contact her 72-year-old mother or brother's family.
"I didn't want to tell my kids and niece at first but I knew it was going to come up with all the news. Their first question after I told them was 'is Mama OK?' and I had to tell them we don't know," Ms Fisi'ikaile said.
Australia and New Zealand on Monday sent surveillance flights to assess the damage as the Tongan government appealed for international help to provide fresh drinking water and food.
Zed Seselja, Australia's Minister for the Pacific, said initial reports suggested there had been no mass casualties, but there was "significant damage" to roads and bridges.
Up to 80,000 people there could be affected, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) told the BBC.
'An awful time'
Snippets of news from the ground have emerged from the islands via diplomats with satellite phones. In a social media post, Peter Lund, New Zealand's acting high commissioner, said "it's been an awful time" and that the capital, Nuku'alofa was "still standing" but blanketed in ash.
He added that the tsunami "walloped" west coast resorts as well as the Nuku'alofa waterfront and that there were some missing persons.
Although the main airport remains intact, on Monday the New Zealand military said ash on the runway could delay the landing of an air force Hercules. However, the navy's new supply ship HMNZS Aotearoa will set sail for the area on Tuesday.
Preparations are also being made to send a specialist cable repair ship from Papua New Guinea to fix an underwater cable and restore Tonga's internet.
- by Daily Telegraph UK, NZ Herald, and agencies