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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Jaya Narain & Dave Burke

Tonga tsunami: Devastated family confirm death of British woman swept away in disaster

The identity of a body found in the search for a British woman who was swept away as a tsunami struck Tonga on Saturday has been confirmed by her family.

Desperate family members had appealed for help finding 50-year-old Angela Glover, who was hit by huge waves on the island's west coast.

Ms Glover's brother, Nick Eleini, told reporters the family has been left "devastated" by her death.

He told Sky News: "I haven't got the words in my vocabulary to even describe how we're feeling at the moment.

"This is just a terrible shock that's happened to us. We're ordinary people, stuff like this doesn't happen to people like us, but then, it does."

Her brother said she was attempting to rescue dogs with her husband when huge waves battered the island, where she had lived since 2015.

Animal-lover Angela, who ran a dog sanctuary in Tonga's capital, Nuku'alofa, was swept away as the island was hit by 4ft waves on the west coast of Tongatapu, the country's main island.

Mr Eleini added: "The uglier the dog the more she loved it."

Her husband James was able to cling on to a tree and it is believed he later discovered Angela's body.

Speaking outside the family home in Sussex, her brother described his sister as "the centre of our family".

“She was beautiful. She was a ray of sunshine," he said.

"She would just walk into a room and lighten the room up and she loved her life, both when she was working in London and then she achieved her life’s dream of going to work in the South Pacific.

“She always wanted to swim with whales - that was a childhood ambition and that is what drove her to Tonga but she loved her life there and we are so proud of her achievements in Tonga with both her and James starting a business and creating a life there are her charity work with Tonga Animal Welfare Society. She was so committed to it.

“She loved animals and dogs particularly. The uglier the dog, the more she loved it.

"We would laugh at her when she sent us these photos on Facebook of dogs she had rescued.

"She was a lovely girl and she was the centre of our family. We’re just broken.”

He said Angela had been washed away with four or five dogs who she was walking at the time. The couple were housesitting a home on the west coast of the island.

In a statement, Mr Eleini added: “Angela has always had a deep love of dogs and so started an animal welfare charity called TAWS - Tonga Animals Welfare Society. Its aim was to provide shelter and rehabilitation to stray dogs before trying to find homes for them.

“I understand that this terrible accident happened as they tried to rescue their dogs. Angela and James loved their life in Tonga and adored the Tongan people, in particular, they loved the Tongan love of family and Tongan culture."

James contacted police and the British Embassy after his wife did not return home, Mr Eleini said.

One of her dogs was subsequently found, but there was no sign of Angela.

Angela Glover posted a picture of red skies on Instagram shortly before tsunami struck (ifthegloverfits/Instagram)

As the search continued for Angela, Mr Eleini, who has travelled back to the UK from Australia to be with his mother, said it was "excruciating".

Speaking to Television New Zealand Mr Eleini said: "She's a great, fun, girl, just lovely to be around. We just adore her. The local authorities have been conducting searches, I believe they're still ongoing although it's daytime there.

"Look, it's 48 hours. I'm not holding out much hope.

"I think it's going to be a body recovery, sorry a body retrieval, rather than trying to find her. But I'm hoping. That's all I can do.

"She grew from this party girl in London, she grew into the Tonga way of life. She really embraced it."

Family friend Donna Head, posted on Facebook: “The worst news possible has been confirmed by family members. Our Ange did not survive the Tonga Tsunami.

Huge waves swept over the island following an underground volcano eruption (NASA Goddard)

“I have no words other than I’m utterly heartbroken and numb. May our beautiful friend rest in peace. Ange, I will look out for your mum, I promise. Good night, God bless angel.”

Shortly before the tsunami happened Angela posted a picture of red skies on Instagram, saying she had witnessed "a few swells" as authorities warned of a tsunami risk.

She wrote: “We’ve been under tsunami warnings today...everything’s fine... a few swells ....a few eerie silences."

New Zealand and Australia have despatched military surveillance flights to assess the damage.

New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters that power had been cut to the island as a result of tsunami, while an ash cloud has contaminated water.

Antonio Guterres, secretary general of the United Nations, tweeted: "I am following with concern the situation in Tonga. The @UN offices in the Pacific are closely monitoring the situation and are on standby to provide support if requested.
"I am grateful to countries that have already offered their support."

The underwater Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai volcano first erupted at 5.10pm local time on Saturday, causing huge waves to crash into home.

Terrifying satellite footage showed the moment of the eruption which triggered a tsunami warning for a number of South Pacific island nations.

Huge waves crashed into homes following the volcano eruption in Saturday (sakakimoana/Twitter)

Scared residents said at the time it was dark in parts of Tonga following the eruption, with locals rushing to safety in fear of being swept away by incoming waves.

One woman spoke of how she was preparing dinner for her family when the eruption shook her home, while another revealed he carried his grandmother to the roof of their home in a bid to reach safety.

The first eruption of the volcano, located about 40 miles north of Nuku'alofa, triggered a 7.4 magnitude earthquake and caused a 1.2-metre tsunami, Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said.

The eruption was so intense it was heard as "loud thunder sounds" in Fiji more than 500 miles away, officials said.

The volcano is about 40 miles north of the Tongan capital Nuku’alofa. In late 2014 and early 2015, a series of eruptions in the area created a small new island and disrupted international air travel to the Pacific archipelago for several days.

Tonga is home to about 105,000 people.

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