The family of the woman who died in a house fire in Vava’u believe she was the one who cried out for help in a live video shared on Facebook this week.
Police said Tu’imala Uinisē Moala, 46, “died from smoke inhalation and very serious burns” after a house fire in Neiafu on Tuesday.
Her husband and his neighbors tried to rescue Moala but did not reach her in time.
Police said the victim was inside the three-storey building with her husband before realizing the fire had engulfed the house.
They said the husband managed to escape while his wife was trapped in the fire. The police statement came after several gruesome videos shot at the fire scene surfaced online amidst the horror of locals and the international Tongan online community.
A video originally posted to Facebook after the fire showed a woman screaming for help as she yelled at what appears to be her husband.
Kaniva News chooses not to publish the details and the rest of what the woman screamed as she struggled in the flames as we were unable to verify the authenticity of the video.
The victim’s family and the kāinga took what they heard from the video seriously and asked for answers.
Limapo Hopoate, a cousin of the deceased, said the videos tell many stories about the cause of Moala’s death. “Since his death, I have been overwhelmed and in a very stressful situation,” Hopoate, first cousin of the victim’s mother, told Kaniva News.
“Things are still very raw and the family is dealing with their emotions in these confused times.”
He likened the family’s experience to a “tsunami” that hit before people tried to escape and tried to protect each other.
“At the same time, we are trying to put together the many pieces of information to get a clear picture of what happened,” he said.
Moala’s body was buried on Wednesday 9. Police said they knew misinformation was being shared on Facebook.