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Thursday, 6 June, 2002, 14:52 GMT 15:52 UK
A-bomb victims warn of nuclear horror
Hiroshima ruins
Survivors want Hiroshima to serve as a warning from history
Survivors of the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki have appealed to Pakistan and India to step back from the brink of war.


We have to tell India and Pakistan that if they start this kind of war they will be making their world like hell

Minoru Yoshikane, Hiroshima victim
The survivors, or hibakusha as they are known in Japan, are fearful that the leaders of the two nuclear armed states do not fully comprehend the horror of a nuclear attack and the destruction it would inflict.

Survivors have told the BBC they are planning to hand a letter of protest to the Indian and Pakistani embassies in Tokyo.

India and Pakistan have been on a war footing since an attack on the Indian parliament in December which Delhi blames on Pakistan-based militants.

Sunao Tsuboi, Hiroshima survivor
Japan's hibakusha feel the leaders have learnt nothing

The two sides have massed one million troops on their disputed border and there are fears any conflict could escalate into a nuclear exchange.

Minoru Yoshikane, aged 75, was just three kilometres (two miles) from ground zero in Hiroshima when the bomb struck on 6 August, 1945.

He believes that the devastating effects of the bomb, which killed more than 140,000 people, have faded over the intervening years.

Melted skin

"They (world leaders) don't know the actual suffering caused by atomic bombing," he said.


If a 15 kiloton explosion, the kind that happened over Hiroshima, were to happen on top of Bombay there would be 150,000 to 850,000 people dying within the first few weeks

Dr M V Ramana, global security expert

"I saw hundreds of people coming out from the centre of the city, they looked like ghosts - their clothes were in shreds, their skin melted down.

"We have to tell India and Pakistan that if they start this kind of war they will be making their world like hell," he warned.

India has said that it will not use its nuclear weapons first, but Pakistan has made no such promise and as the tensions between the two countries show no sign of abating, the hibakusha are looking on aghast.

Horrific death toll

Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba also highlighted the human cost of atomic showdown in a message to the Indian and Pakistani leaders on Saturday.

Pervez Musharraf
Pakistan does not promise it will not strike first

"The suffering inflicted on innocent civilians in both countries would be immense, devastating environmental destruction would ensue, and humanity would be thrust closer to the brink of self-obliteration," Mr Akiba wrote.

Scientists estimate the warheads being readied by India and Pakistan are roughly the same size as the bomb which destroyed Hiroshima - but given the densely packed population in Indian and Pakistani cities the human toll could be even worse.

Proliferation fears

Dr M V Ramana, a researcher at Princeton University's programme on Science and Global security told the BBC World Service that one bomb hitting a city such as Bombay could kill as many as a 850,000.

Bombay skyline
Just one strike would kill hundreds of thousands in Bombay

"The loss of life would be horrific. If a 15 kiloton explosion, the kind that happened over Hiroshima, were to happen on top of Bombay there would be 150,000 to 850,000 people dying within the first few weeks," he said.

Dr Ramana also warned that far from driving other states away from nuclear weaponry the horrific destruction might spur new states into seeking nuclear weapons.

"Fortunately the world has seen no use of nuclear weapons since 1945 and that taboo would be breached... and it could trigger other countries to try to start nuclear weapons programmes of their own," he said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Dr M V Ramana, Princeton University
"They probably do possess nuclear weapons"
Minoru Yoshikane, survivor of the atom bomb
"I'm very much afraid that India and Pakistan will start a war"
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See also:

05 Jun 02 | South Asia
03 Jun 02 | South Asia
01 Jun 02 | South Asia
04 Jun 02 | South Asia
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