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'What Happened On This Date'
It's hot! Help! Water please! - Hiroshima 8/6 Recreated
(August 6, 2005, The Asahi Shimbun Newspaper Morning Edition)
9:00 a.m. Rain intensifies
Hideously burnt faces, moaning fills the streets
9:00 a.m. Black rain containing large amounts of radioactive material intensifies.
10:00 a.m. Fires spread. The city area of Hiroshima is engulfed in raging fires in the afternoon. Army Marine Regiment Headquarters sends a telegraph report on the disaster situation to the Minister of the Army and the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff.
Soon big drops of black rain fell on Hiroshima, especially in the northwestern area. It is recorded that the rain continued until evening, when some of the fires began to wane.
Akio Kawano (75, Aki-Takada, Hiroshima Prefecture) was exposed to the A-bomb while at a military uniform factory in the City of Hiroshima. While he was rescuing a senior colleague who had been buried under a fallen building, a shower of black rain started to fall. His colleague told him, "The United States is spraying oil and trying to burn us. Evacuate to an air-defense shelter."
The black rain fell at least as far as 30 kilometers from the hypocenter. Takafumi Fukumaru (64, Hitachi-naka, Ibaraki Prefecture), who was living in the suburbs about seven kilometers from the hypocenter, remembers seeing fish floating in the streams after the rain stopped.
Disaster victims from throughout the city began fleeing to the outskirts of the city.
Kuniyoshi Aikawa (72, Adachi Ward, Tokyo) was exposed to the A-bomb at home in Senda-cho (1.5 kilometers from the hypocenter). He fled the city with his neighbors. "The streets were like a scene from hell. The faces of staggering girl students were burnt beyond recognition. Their skin was peeling and hanging down. When I saw them, I could not remain on me feet. I just sat down for a while."
Kiyoko Yoshida (75, Minami Ward, Saitama) was in fourth year at a girl's high school when she was exposed to the A-bomb while working at a munitions factory. "In the afternoon I saw many boys and girls lying on the ground. They were among the students who were engaged in the building evacuation work near the city hall. They were disfigured beyond recognition and groaning 'Water! Water!'"
Reiko Ito (77, Setagaya-Ward, Tokyo) has a hearing problem. She was trapped under her fallen house in Sendamachi about 1.5 kilometers from the hypocenter. "I ran to the ground of a nearby university and saw many soldiers lying there with burns. I looked under a bridge on the way and saw countless bodies bobbing up and down like pieces of timber washed down a flooding river."
5:00 p.m. Air-defense headquarters set up
I applied oil to one victim and a line of 50 people formed.
11:00 a.m. A temporary medical treatment station set up at Osachi-bashi about two kilometers south of the Hiroshima city center.
1:30 p.m. The Army Marine Regiment Headquarters stops daily functions of the entire unit to tend to relief activity
5:00 p.m. "Hiroshima Prefecture Air-defense Headquarters" established at Tamon-in in Hijiyama
In anticipation of air raids, the City of Hiroshima had designated 32 national schools, military installations, and temples as relief centers and 18 such facilities as relief medical centers. As the number of wounded people mounted, nurses, training officers, and students engaged in aid activities.
Hijiyama Park, 2.5 kilometers from the hypocenter, was one such aid center. In the morning many wounded people arrived at a bomb shelter that had been dug out on a slope. Army doctor Masaaki Taguchi of the Army Ordinance Supply Depot (81, Minami Ward, Fukuoka) was busy securing medical treatment stations. His superior was quick to issue orders. "Secure the two munitions armories and three trucks on the eastern side of the bomb shelter. Clear 500 meters of the road between the shelter and the armories. Continue emergency work even during air raids."
A flood of patients also went to the Ono Army Hospital about 20 kilometers west of Hiroshima. Misa Moriya (84, Suginami Ward, Tokyo), who was dispatched as a relief team member from the Red Cross Niigata Branch, says, "Meeting rooms, recreational rooms, and hallways were overflowing [with patients]."
The Kure Welfare Hospital in Kure, Hiroshima was in a similar situation. Yoshiko Tsubokawa (78, Mihara, Hiroshima Prefecture), who was a nurse at the hospital, writes, "We were instructed to provide as many beds as possible. We mobilized all personnel to get the hospital ready without having the true picture of the situation. Army trucks brought in countless disaster victims. Bandages and gauzes ran out no matter how many we made."
Strangers formed mutual support groups, which expanded quickly.
Noriko Sato (76, Minato Ward, Tokyo), a student at a pharmacy school who was visiting home in Hiroshima, recalls, "There was some emergency cooking oil that we had buried in the garden. I applied it on one victim and 50 other victims quickly lined up for it."
Emiko Daijo (77, Aki Ward, Hiroshima) was exposed to the A-bomb on her way to the factory where she was working as a mobilized student. She suffered burns on the head and neck. She writes, "It was so painful that I cried as I walked. A woman, a total stranger on the side of the road, handed me a round slice of cucumber and said, 'Take this and press it on your burns.'"
The military also began to take action. Particularly active was the Army Marine Regiment Headquarters (Akatsuki Corps), located around Ujina Port in the south of Hiroshima. They had suffered relatively limited damage and used small boats to go up the city's seven rivers to engage in fire-fighting and rescue activities.
Haruhiro Nakamura (82, Nishi Ward, Sapporo) was a training officer in a ship repair education unit. He prepared to accommodate wounded people in unused barracks belonging to an army company.
Norimasa Hiratsuka (78, Shiogama, Miyagi Prefecture) was with the Army Suicide Squad in Etajima. He was ordered to go to the hypocenter around 3:00 p.m. He writes, "The last words before she died of a woman who had collapsed at a national school were, 'Our city was destroyed by incendiary bombs. Please take revenge for us'."
Elsewhere, trains and trucks carrying wounded people left the city to go to the suburbs. National schools and hospitals in the rural districts had been converted into emergency shelters and relief stations. About 150,000 disaster victims took refuge throughout the prefecture.
Junko Nonaka (67, Tama Ward, Kawasaki) had been evacuated to Sunaya (now part of Hiroshima City) about 20 kilometers northwest of Hiroshima. She says, "In the evening, many people with burns returned on cargo trucks. An old woman farmer, who did not know what had happened, said, 'They shouldn't have gone so close to fires and got burnt like that'."
Tamaki Azukihara (80, Miyoshi, Hiroshima Prefecture), an official of the National Labor Mobilization Department in Kimita in the north of Hiroshima Prefecture (present-day City of Miyoshi), was on her way to work when she felt the earth rumble and saw a flash in the southern sky. She says, "When I got to my office, I was informed that an electric bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima." She packed rice balls, water and a first-aid box and headed for Miyoshi Station.
Trains full of disaster victims arrived one after another at stations in the rural districts.
Early dawn August 7. The United States announces dropping of the A-bomb
Even though it was mid-summer I felt cold and shivered abnormally.
6:00 p.m. A radio broadcast reports the damage. "Several B-29s came over Hiroshima, dropped incendiary bombs, and flew away. A survey of the damage is now underway."
8:00 p.m. The governor of Hiroshima leads a discussion of war disaster countermeasures and calls for relief in various locations.
11:00 p.m. About 50 students of a nearby Navy Medical School carrying medical supplies for one thousand people arrive at Hiroshima and provide first-aid throughout the night.
At night, moans and groans filled the relief stations and streets. People who could not find a place to evacuate camped out in the fields, on dry riverbeds, and inside boats. Even though it was summer, it was so cold that people shivered.
Masamichi Shibuya (74, Kaita-machi, Hiroshima), who was a worker with National Railways, was exposed to the A-bomb while at Hiroshima Station. He took shelter in nearby Higashi Military Training Center. "I was cold and shivered abnormally." He went into a bomb shelter and found many dead bodies. He spent the night there.
Yoshie Tanemori (68, Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture), a second-year student at the national school, pulled a large straw bag used to store rice and wheat out of the shed of her fallen house. She and her grandparents went to a potato field and "slept with just our heads out [of the bag]."
There were small children who had lost their parents and wandered around the scorched earth at night.
Saburo Fujii (65, Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture) was five at the time. His father went missing after leaving for work. His mother died squashed under their fallen house. Now an orphan, Fujii took his crying brother (aged 3) by the hand and sought refuge in a school in Hijiyama. "The school had already been turned into a shelter for orphans. About 100 children were there."
An emergency relief station was set up in Ninoshima in Hiroshima Bay, where an army quarantine station had been located since before the war. About 10,000 wounded people were taken there and to a nearby temple.
Hiroshi Kittaka(77, Mihara, Hiroshima Prefecture) was at the Hiroshima Municipal Technical College when he was exposed to the A-bomb. He was taken to the quarantine station and spent the night there. He says, "Cries of 'Water please!' and moans from badly injured people were all around. It was hell."
Amidst the confusion, some people tried somehow to observe military orders.
Tatsuo Arimura (79, Asahi Ward, Yokohama), an Army anti-ship artillery officer trainee, was armed with a gun as he patrolled around Hiroshima Station to prevent feared riots. He stood watch on a bridge all night long.
There were also people who came to Hiroshima from other prefectures for relief activities, or to confirm damage. Miyuki Miyamoto (77, Muikaichi-machi, Shimane Prefecture), was a truck driver for a munitions factory in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture. He was ordered by the military to head to Hiroshima in the middle of the night with military police officers in his truck. Along the way enemy planes dropped flares and the Hiroshima city district turned bright as daytime.
August 7, 1:00 a.m. (Japan time). U.S. President Truman announces on the radio to the world:
"Sixteen hours ago, an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese Army base. … It is an atomic bomb."
American prisoners of war die, as rocks thrown at them amid hatred
There were no prisoner of war camps in the city of Hiroshima, but at least twelve American POWs are believed to have become disaster victims at Chugoku Military Police Headquarters and elsewhere near the hypocenter. American prisoners of war, who were on the verge of death, became the target of hatred of civilians in the wake of the A-bomb.
Rokuro Kubosaki (78, Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture) went into Hiroshima on the afternoon of the 6th. He saw two young American soldiers chained to a telephone pole near the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall (present-day A-Bomb Dome).
"They appeared to be dead. I was so overwhelmed with hatred that I threw a glass bottle at them. It wasn't those prisoners that dropped the bomb. I regret what I did."
Masaharu Kuritani (79, Kitahiroshima-cho) saw "a young American solider who was still breathing" near the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall on the morning of the 7th. "His hands were tied up. He was wearing a big blue stone ring on one of his fingers. Several hours later he was dead. I saw many rocks and tiles around him."
Little information is available about how or when the prisoners ended up near the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall.
Torao Orimoto (78, Kure), of Dai-juichi Naval Aviation Factory, came to Hiroshima on the morning of the 7th. He testifies:
"There were two American soldiers on the ground near the Chugoku Military Policy Headquarters. One of them may have been dead. We were ordered to carry the one who was conscious on a stretcher. On the way, I heard the soldier groan, "Water", so I poured water from a canteen on his face. We tied him up to a telephone pole with a metal wire. An old woman kicked him, saying, 'You killed my son.'"
Shigeaki Mori (68), a historian in Nishi Ward, Hiroshima, has spent about 20 years looking into the facts surrounding U.S. A-bomb victims. He has so far identified twelve of them. He received pictures of eight of them from their bereaved families and placed them in the National Peace Memorial Hall in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
In February this year, he donated to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum six items that he received from the bereaved families of the crew of the B-24 bombers that were shot down in Kure Harbor and died from A-bomb exposure in Hiroshima. The bereaved families say, "We want people to remember that Americans were also victims of the A-bomb."
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NOTE： It is estimated that by the end of December 1945 nearly 140,000 people had died in Hiroshima on account of a single atomic bomb dropped on August 6 that year. Ever since, the A-bomb victims have continued to suffer from radiation-related aftereffects and many died as a result. Even now, the A-bomb survivors are still filled with anxiety about their health. According to Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, as of March 31, 2011 the number of hibakusha (holders of Atomic Bomb Survivor's Certificates) was 219,410. Their average age is 77.44 years old.(2011)