Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tsutomu Yamaguchi Dies at 93

This is an amazing story. Tsutomu Yamaguchi died on Monday at the age of 93. He was the only official survivor or both Japanese atomic blasts during WWII.

Mr. Yamaguchi, as a 29-year-old engineer for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, was on a business trip in Hiroshima when the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on the morning of Aug. 6, 1945. He was getting off a streetcar when the “Little Boy” device detonated above Hiroshima.
Mr. Yamaguchi said he was less than 2 miles away from ground zero. His eardrums were ruptured and his upper torso was burned by the blast, which destroyed most of the city’s buildings and killed 80,000 people.
According to his account, he took the Last Train From Hiroshima to his hometown of Nagasaki the next day to get to his family despite being badly burned, even resorting to using a "raft" of floating dead, bloated bodies to cross a bridgeless river to get to the train.

Heavily bandaged, he returned to work on August 9th and was explaining what had happened to his fellow workers and instructed them how to survive by diving under desks, when his boss berated him for exaggerating, claiming that no such bomb exists, when...
...“suddenly the same white light filled the room,” he said in an interview last March with The Independent newspaper.
He and about 30 fellow workers, who heeded his warnings and instructions, survived the second blast which killed another 70,000 in Nagasaki. Luckily, their office was in a section of the building that was blocked by a steel reinforced staircase which cut through the shockwave like the prow of a ship cuts through the ocean waves. When they emerged from their hiding places, the rest of the building along with 300 other workers had disappeared.
“I could have died on either of those days,” Mr. Yamaguchi said in an August interview with the Mainichi Daily News. “Everything that follows is a bonus.”
...Mr. Yamaguchi recovered from his wounds, went to work for the American occupation forces, became a teacher and eventually returned to work at Mitsubishi Heavy. He was in good health for most of his life... In his later years, Mr. Yamaguchi began to speak out about the scourge of atomic weapons. He rarely gave interviews, but he wrote a memoir and was part of a 2006 documentary film about the double-bombing victims. He called for the abolition of nuclear weapons at a showing of the film at the United Nations that year.


NowhereMan said...

Wow!I never knew such a person existed!Those have to be astronomical odds to survive an atomic bomb then go to your home and get hit again!The only reason Hiroshima was hit was because Tokyo the original target,was covered with fog so they had to settle on Hiroshima.
Even more amazing to be exposed to so much radiation and live as long as he did!

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