[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Monday, 20 June, 2005, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
Nagasaki bomb account published
Ruins of Urakami Catholic church in Nagasaki, 1945
Weller describes a Catholic church "torn down like gingerbread"
Revealing stories by a US journalist who visited the Japanese city of Nagasaki a month after the atomic bomb have been published almost 60 years on.

George Weller's account, serialised by Japan's Mainichi daily, describes the "wasteland" created and the suffering of victims of radiation sickness.

He was the first foreign reporter in the ravaged city, declared off-limits to journalists by the US occupiers.

The writings, rejected by US censors, were lost, but re-discovered last year.

She lies moaning with a blackish mouth stiff as though with lockjaw and unable to utter clear words
George Weller, describing radiation sickness sufferer

Weller's son Anthony found copies of them in his father's apartment in Rome, Italy, two years after the journalist's death.

About 70,000 people were killed in the initial blast at Nagasaki, and thousands more died from the effects of radiation. Japan surrendered days later, ending World War II.

Sensitive material

Weller dodged US military checks to reach the city - at one point posing as an army colonel.

A mushroom cloud over Nagasaki, Japan, after the US dropped an atomic bomb in 1945
The effects were little understood at the time of Weller's visit
But on his return he submitted his reports - 75 typed pages and more than 20 photos - to the censors.

Gen Douglas MacArthur, who headed the US occupation of Japan, was so angered by the reports that he personally rejected them. The originals were never returned.

Anthony Weller told Mainichi he thought the account was quashed because it could have turned US public opinion against the build-up of a nuclear arsenal.

George Weller's account describes the city as he saw it in September 1945.

"The following conclusions were made by the writer - as the first visitor to inspect the ruins - after an exhaustive, though still incomplete study of this wasteland of war," he begins.

Doctors 'nonplussed'

At first he appears sceptical about the effects of radiation.

"Hours of walking amid the ruins where the odour of decaying flesh is still strong produces in this writer nausea, but no sign of burns or debilitation," he says.

Their patients, though their skin is whole, are all passing away under their eyes
George Weller
"Nobody here in Nagasaki has yet been able to show that the bomb is different than any other."

But in a later report, Weller describes a visit to a hospital containing patients suffering from radiation sickness, which he calls "disease X". They include a woman who had been virtually unaffected by the initial blast but fell ill three weeks later.

"She lies moaning with a blackish mouth stiff as though with lockjaw and unable to utter clear words," he writes. "Her exposed legs and arms are speckled with tiny red spots in patches."

Weller quotes doctors as saying they are nonplussed by the disease, which was killing patients at a rate of around 10 a day.

"Their patients, though their skin is whole, are all passing away under their eyes," he writes.


SEE ALSO:
Hiroshima survivors promote peace
14 Jul 04 |  Southern Counties
Enola Gay display angers victims
16 Dec 03 |  Americas


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific