At the age of six, Toshiko Tanaka was walking to the Noboricho Public School in Hiroshima when, at 8:15 a.m., the city
“When I was about to turn 70, II felt it was my responsibility to let as many people as possible know what I went through so that none of our children would experience what I went through. A new nuclear war will lead to the end of the world,” said Tanaka.
Today, Tanaka is already 83 years old, she actively fights for peace and advocates a complete ban on nuclear weapons in the world.
Tanaka in the center, on the right is the grandson of President Harry Truman, who made the decision to bomb Japanese cities
On the morning of Monday, August 6, Tanaka walked toschool, when she saw a plane in the distance in the sky, and then a fireball blinded her. The original target of the Little Boy bomb was the Aioi Bridge, which, due to its characteristic T-shape, was easily identified by American aircraft from the sky. But the epicenter of the explosion eventually became the neighboring Nakajima district, located in the administrative and commercial center of the city, about 250 meters from the bridge.
The bomb exploded at a height of 580 meters above the groundand 2.3 kilometers from the place where Tanaka was located. It is estimated that the fireball, about 250 meters in diameter, reached a temperature of over a million degrees Celsius.
“When I saw this flash, it was likethousands of strobe lights, and I immediately covered my face with my hand. I couldn't figure out what was going on, but it felt like my right arm, head, and left side of my neck were on fire. The blinding light was followed by a terrible darkness, as if it were midnight, and a "black rain" of a mushroom cloud with radioactive dust began. In the midst of this rain, I was in a state of shock, and all the surrounding buildings were destroyed or caught fire. But I tried to recover myself in order to return to my house. When I got there, there was nothing left, and my mother didn’t recognize me at first because my hair was singed from the heat and I was completely black,” Tanaka recalls.
Everything was destroyed in the streets and the wounded were lying around,with severe burns or hanging pieces of skin. “Have you ever peeled tomatoes in hot water when making a salad? Tanaka asked. “The same thing happens to the human body when the skin is exposed to high temperatures. Every time I see tomatoes, this nightmare comes back to me.”
About 80,000 people died instantly in Hiroshima, and the same number died later as a result of burns or cancer.
“Since that night I have had a high fever and Iwas in a coma for a week. Without doctors and hospitals, my mother thought I would die. When I woke up, the city was still shrouded in smoke and a terrible smell coming from schoolyards and parks, because a large number of corpses were cremated there every day, ”said Tanaka.
As the days passed, many survivorsalso began to notice strange reactions in their bodies that no one could explain. “Many people who seemed to be safe and sound after the attack began to develop purple spots on their skin, hair fell out or gums bled. They died shortly after that,” Tanaka recalled.
For Tanaka, the most difficult physical andpsychological disorders also began many years later, in adolescence, around the age of 15. “I had to go through many medical interventions for visual impairment due to the flash from a nuclear explosion. I constantly had ulcers in my mouth and all over my body, and I suffered from frequent fainting, ”recalls Tanaka.
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