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Man Who Survived 2 Atom Bomb Attacks Dies At 93

PTI 07 Jan 2010, 9:15:35 IST

The only official survivor of both the atomic blasts to hit Japan in World War II has died.
Tsutomu Yamaguchi died on Monday of stomach cancer in Nagasaki, Japan, his daughter said on Wednesday. He was 93.

Yamaguchi, as a 29-year-old engineer for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, was on a business trip in Hiroshima when the US dropped the first atomic bomb on the morning of Aug. 6, 1945. He was getting off a streetcar when the "Little Boy" device detonated above Hiroshima.

Yamaguchi said he was less than 2 miles away from ground zero. His eardrums were ruptured and his upper torso was burned by the blast, which destroyed most of the city's buildings and killed 80,000 people.

Yamaguchi spent the night in a Hiroshima bomb shelter and returned to his hometown of Nagasaki the following day, according to interviews that he gave over the years.

The second bomb, known as "Fat Man," was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, killing 70,000 people there.

Yamaguchi was in his Nagasaki office, telling his boss about the Hiroshima blast, when "suddenly the same white light filled the room," he said in an interview last March with the Independent.

"I thought the mushroom cloud had followed me from Hiroshima," he said. "I could have died on either of those days," Yamaguchi said in an August interview with the Mainichi Daily News. "Everything that follows is a bonus."

Japan surrendered six days after the Nagasaki attack. Yamaguchi recovered from his wounds, went to work for the American occupation forces, became a teacher and eventually returned to work at Mitsubishi Heavy. He was in good health for most of his life, said his daughter, Toshiko Yamasaki, which is why he avoided joining in anti-nuclear protests.

"He was so healthy, he thought it would have been unfair to people who were really sick," Yamasaki told the Independent. "Afterwards he was fine," she said.