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Last Updated: Friday, 5 August 2005, 08:53 GMT 09:53 UK
Surviving Hiroshima: Keiko Ogura
Keiko Ogura today
Keiko Ogura tried to help the many injured after the bombing
Keiko Ogura was eight years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. She still lives in the city.

I wanted to go to school, but my father said 'I have a very strange feeling today - you shouldn't go to school, stay with us'.

That morning I was on the road near the house and all of a sudden I saw a flash of blueish white light - a magnesium-like flash and soon after a big sound with dust, and I was blown away and fell on the ground.

I found myself lying on the ground near the house. I thought the house was just in front of me but I couldn't see it because everything had become so dark and many pieces of wood and roof tiles and rubbish were falling on my head.

There was black rain falling... It smelled bad and there were many spots on my white blouse

And in the darkness there was a strong, strong wind like a typhoon. I couldn't open my eyes but tried to get back to my house and in the darkness I heard somebody was crying - my brother and sister.

I was 2.4km from the hypocentre but houses nearer the hypocentre had caught fire and were burning.

I saw long lines of refugees, just quiet, I don't know why they were so quiet. There were long lines, like ghosts.

Most of them were stretching out their arms because the skin was peeling off from the tips of their fingers. I could clearly see the hanging skin, peeling skin, and the wet red flesh and their hair was burned and smelled, the burnt hair smelled a lot.

And many people, just slowly passed by the front of my house.


All of a sudden a hand squeezed my ankle. I was so scared but they said 'get me water'. Almost all the people were just asking 'water', and 'help me'.

I rushed into my home where there was a well and brought them water. They thanked me but some of them were drinking water and vomiting blood and [then] died, stopped moving. They died in front of me. I felt regret and so scared. Maybe I killed them? Did I kill them?

And that night, 6 August, my father was so busy looking after the neighbours, but when he came back he said: 'Listen children - you shouldn't give water, some of the refugees died after drinking water. Please remember that.'

As a little girl I was so curious. I climbed up the hill, near our house... I was so astonished - all the city was flattened and demolished

Then I felt so guilty, and I saw them many times in my nightmares. I thought I was a very bad girl - I didn't do what my father said - so I kept it a secret. I didn't tell anybody this story until my father died.

There was black rain falling, black rain mingling with ashes and rubbish and oil, something like that. It smelled bad and there were many spots on my white blouse - sticky, dirty rain.

In the morning people were moving, brushing away flies from their skin. My house was full of injured people.

But as a little girl I was so curious. I wanted to see what the city looked like. My house was at the bottom of a hill - I climbed up the hill, near our house, and then I saw the whole city. I was so astonished - all the city was flattened and demolished. I counted just a couple of concrete buildings.

In denial

The next day some of the buildings were still burning, and the next day, and the next day, and for three or four days I climbed the hill to see what the city was like.

I have a brother-in-law. He was living almost at the centre of the city - his family was very close to the hypocentre. Until now his family members were missing and he didn't want to recognise they were all gone, so he refused to say and report the family's names to the officials and he didn't want to visit Hiroshima.

Right now, he is living far away in Tokyo, and only last year he decided to report to Hiroshima city that his family members - his mother and sister - had passed away.

And there were so many people [who saw] so many dead or dying, but actually, most of them made up their mind not to tell anyone about what they saw.

This interview is from the series 'August 1945', from 3-14 August on BBC Radio 4, at 8.55 BST Mondays-Saturday, and at 9.55 BST on Sunday.


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