Magazine article Newsweek

At Ground Zero in Hiroshima

Magazine article Newsweek

At Ground Zero in Hiroshima

Article excerpt

HIROSHIMA, AUG. 6, 1945: The Enola Gay arrived overhead at 8:15 a.m. and released its solitary bomb. Shizuko Yamasaki was at home with her toddler son. People near ground zero were vaporized-about 80,000 died instantly-and most of the city simply ceased to exist.

It was a very hot day. i came out of an air-raid shelter with my 2- year-old son, Atsunori, a little before 8. It was breakfast time, and we hurried back to our old wooden house. I was just about to hand him a bowl of rice when rays of a strange bluish and whitish color came in through the kitchen window, brushed my right cheek and hit Atsunori right in the eyes. I held him tight to my bosom as the house was lifted and moved by the blast.

The next moment I found myself crushed underneath the collapsed house. It was pitch dark and I couldn't move an inch with the roof, walls and rubble on my back. All I could think of was "I'm going to die here." Then something moved under my body. It was Atsunori, begging for help and crying with pain. I had to find a way out to save his life. If he died, I could not face my husband when he returned from the war. The mushroom cloud must have gone, and I saw a ray of sunlight coming through. All I could do was dig the ground with my hand and move like a snail toward the sunlight.

Covered with mud and blood, I pushed my son out, then came out of the fallen house to see a kind of Hiroshima I had never seen-a destroyed city much worse than a living hell. I saw people walking like ghosts with their skin peeled and hanging like seaweed, and there were charred bodies inside the burned trams. Carrying Atsunori, whose body was slippery with blood, I rushed to the riverbank, where we spent three nights, surrounded by the injured and corpses. On the fourth day I stood up. Holding my son in my arms, I managed to reach a village over the mountain where my father lived. …

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