Hiroshima Survivors Remember Atomic Bomb Blast: Big Pics

Aug. 6, 2010 -- Three days after an atomic bomb devastated Hiroshima, six-year-old Kazuko Uragashira and her parents were aboard an evacuation train out of their charred home city.

Having narrowly survived the nuclear inferno, the family headed for the home of an uncle, not knowing that another date with destiny lay ahead of them. His home town was Nagasaki.

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Uragashira remembers sitting on the train, her legs burnt from the radioactive blast, when their train stopped in a tunnel outside Nagasaki after a 300-kilometer (190-mile) journey.

"It was another scene from hell," Uragashira, now 71, recalled. They had stumbled into the immediate aftermath of the second atomic bombing in Japan, on August 9, 1945.

As the train passengers painstakingly trudged their way through the carnage, she saw survivors with molten skin dripping off their bodies.

"I still remember the smell of charred bodies and the weak screams of the dying, for water… Even if I suffer dementia, I will never forget it," she said.

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Uragashira, who now lives on a remote island off Nagasaki, is one of the few remaining "niju hibakusha" -- survivors of not one but both atom bomb attacks on Japan in the final days of World War II.

"I was lucky as a lot of others died instantly, but I still want to know why such a horrible thing happened to me twice," she said quietly.

An estimated 140,000 people died instantly in Hiroshima or succumbed to burns and radiation sickness soon after the blast, and over 70,000 perished as a result of the Nagasaki attack three days later.

Friday marks the 65th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing.

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