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‘I still hate the glow of the sun’: Hiroshima survivors’ tales

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For survivors of the world’s first nuclear attack, the day America unleashed a terrible bomb over the city of Hiroshima remains seared forever in their minds.

Though their numbers are dwindling and the advancing years are taking a toll, their haunting memories are undimmed by the passage of more than seven decades.

On the occasion of Barack Obama’s offering of a floral tribute on Friday at the cenotaph in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park — the first ever visit by a sitting US president — some of them share their stories with AFP.

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Emiko Okada

Emiko Okada, now 79, was about 2.8 kilometres (1.7 miles) from ground zero and suffered severe injuries in the blast. Her sister was killed.

“All of a sudden a flash of light brightened the sky and I was slammed to the ground. I didn’t know what on earth had happened. There were fires everywhere. We rushed away as the blaze roared toward us.

“The people I saw looked nothing like human beings. Their skin and flesh hung loose. Some children’s eyeballs were popping out of their sockets.

“I still hate to see the glow of the setting sun. It reminds me of that day and brings pain to my heart.

“In the aftermath, many children who had evacuated during the war came back here, orphaned by the bomb. Many gangsters came to Hiroshima from around the country and gave them food and guns.

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“President Obama is a person who can influence the world. I hope that this year will be the beginning of knowing what actually happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki under the mushroom clouds.”

Keiko Ogura

Keiko Ogura, now 78, has devoted her life to keeping alive the memory of the devastating day.

“Shortly after (the bomb exploded) it rained. It was a sticky black rain and made my clothes wet.

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“I saw a line of seriously burnt people, like silent ghosts.

“Suddenly, a girl grabbed my leg and said in a weak voice: ‘Give me water.’ Others also said: ‘Water. Water.’

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“I brought water to them, but some died right after they drank it. I regretted giving it to them.

“I saw smoke from a nearby park where bodies were being cremated. Sometimes I could smell the bodies burning.

“We faced the horror (of nuclear weapons). I tell everybody that it was hell. But they don’t understand.

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“There is no peace in Hiroshima. There is horror here.”

Park Nam-Joo

Park Nam-Joo, now 83, is an ethnic Korean, who has suffered from breast and skin cancer because of the radiation she was exposed to that day.

An estimated 20,000 Koreans were among the dead in Hiroshima. Many had been taken to Japan as forced labourers during its 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean peninsula:

“Everything was broken to pieces. Everywhere was rubble. It’s beyond description. It was inhumane.

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“Hiroshima was a sea of fire. People bled from everywhere on their bodies: ‘I’m burning. I’m burning. Please help,’ they cried.

“The wounds of the living were infested with maggots. There was no medicine for it.

“People say human life is to be revered but the lives of those who died in the atomic bombing were just like those of insects.

“I still shed tears when I recall the scene. Many people don’t want to remember that.

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“I want people to know that not only Japanese but Korean, Chinese and others also suffered in the atomic bombing.

“I’m Catholic. Wearing a rosary and with a statue of the Virgin Mary next to me, I pray at night for a peaceful passage to heaven.”


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New Zealand suspends America’s Cup funding after fraud, spy claims

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New Zealand froze payments to America's Cup organizers Thursday as officials investigate fraud claims in the lead-up to next year's prestigious yachting regatta in Auckland.

Government officials said they had suspended payments to America's Cup Events Limited, the private company organizing the race, following allegations of spying and misuse of public money.

"We are not intending to make further payments to ACE. This will be revisited pending the outcome of the process," the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said in a statement.

The ministry has previously said it was investigating "structural and financial matters" surrounding the organization of the race but provided no further details.

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Trump supporters funded a private border wall that’s already at risk of falling down

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Tommy Fisher billed his new privately funded border wall as the future of deterrence, a quick-to-build steel fortress that spans 3 miles in one of the busiest Border Patrol sectors.

Unlike a generation of wall builders before him, he said he figured out how to build a structure directly on the banks of the Rio Grande, a risky but potentially game-changing step when it came to the nation’s border wall system.

Fisher has leveraged his self-described “Lamborghini” of walls to win more than $1.7 billion worth of federal contracts in Arizona.

But his showcase piece is showing signs of runoff erosion and, if it’s not fixed, could be in danger of falling into the Rio Grande, according to engineers and hydrologists who reviewed photos of the wall for ProPublica and The Texas Tribune. It never should have been built so close to the river, they say.

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Study uncovers most effective non-medical face mask for protecting against coronavirus

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A study conducted by researchers at Florida Atlantic University has found that the best type of non-medical face mask to protect against coronavirus is a stitched mask made from two layers of quilting fabric.With mask-wearing mandatory or at least encouraged in many areas to slow the spread of the virus, many Americans have taken to making DIY masks or buying low-cost ones from the store. While none of these masks reach the level of effectiveness that medical-grade masks and respirators do, some of them are still better than others.In the study, researchers used a mannequin head, a manual pump... (more…)

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