January 7, 2010

ATOMIC SURVIVOR DIES:

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.

Mr. Yamaguchi spent the night in a Hiroshima bomb shelter and returned to his hometown of Nagasaki the following day, according to interviews he gave over the years. The second bomb, known as “Fat Man,” was dropped on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, killing 70,000 people there.

Mr. Yamaguchi was in his Nagasaki office, telling his boss about the Hiroshima blast, when “suddenly the same white light filled the room,” he said in an interview last March with The Independent newspaper.

“I thought the mushroom cloud had followed me from Hiroshima,” he said.

“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.”

Every day is always a bonus, with or without the dramatic accompaniment.

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