Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the man who survived two atomic bombs


On August 6, 1945, a US bomber dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The attack killed more than 100,000 people and injured over a hundred thousand others. The bombing was followed by another on Nagasaki three days later. Japan surrendered on August 14 and World War II was over. The bombing of Hiroshima was the first use of nuclear weapons in warfare.

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The man who survived two atomic bombs is Mr. Tsutomu Yamaguchi who was in Hiroshima on a business trip when it happened and then again in Nagasaki where he had gone to visit his parents. He was the only person who has been recorded as having experienced two nuclear attacks and lived to tell the tale.

Tsutomu Yamaguchi was born on March 16, 1916 in a small town in the Japanese island of Kyushu. In 1937, at the age of 22, he arrived in Hiroshima to work for a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Yamaguchi was pushed back severely before seeking refuge in an irrigation ditch. His manager at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries had dispatched him to Hiroshima three months before to work on an oil tanker. It was supposed to be his last day in town, and he was eager to go home to his family.

He was 29 when he was blown to the ground by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Luckily, the bomb did not destroy Yamaguchi and he survived with several injuries. He shielded himself with a wooden beam saving himself from serious injury.

As destiny would have it, Yamaguchi set off for Nagasaki, his homeland, after spending the night in an air raid bunker with his wife and infant son. He had to cross a river filled with bloated bodies of men, women, and children, some of whom were trapped together, because the bridges were destroyed. Yamaguchi would carry these terrible memories with him till his death.

He had no clue that he was about to face another atomic bomb, which would also be waiting for him in Nagasaki. Three days later, after making the agonizing journey home to Nagasaki, with bandages still clinging to his badly burned skin, Tsutomu felt the shattering boom of another atomic bomb.

Fat Man, the code name for the second of two atomic bombs used in wartime, was supposed to be detonated over Kokura in Fukuoka, but the location was altered to Nagasaki owing to cloud cover. Yamaguchi, who was around three kilometers from ground zero, survived with his wife and five-month-old kid.

His wife and child also survived the blast. However, the double radiation exposure took its toll on his health, and he became gravely ill in the days that followed. Yamaguchi gradually healed and went on to live a very normal life.

Tsutomu Yamaguchi, March 25, 2009.Photo byby Justin Mccurry on Wikipedia

Yamaguchi remained silent about his experiences for the majority of his life, until speaking up in the 2000s when he published a memoir and spoke at the United Nations advocating nuclear disarmament.

In 2009, less than a year before his death, the Nagasaki native became the only individual to be formally acknowledged by the Japanese government as a double hibakusha (survivor of atomic bomb).

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Saurabh is a Computer Science & Engineering undergraduate student pursuing his writing interests. He enjoys researching current events/news as well as Evergreen Topics and has also been writing on Medium, Quora and Vocal.


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