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Hibakusha: Teenager who cremated her family members rubbed their blood into her hands

TOKYO -- Seventy-five years ago, Fumiko Morita laid the bodies of her father, mother and two younger brothers on a sheet of corrugated iron, and cremated them in Nagasaki. Her hands were covered with black soot and the blood of her family, who had perished in the atomic bombing of their city.

    "At that moment, I felt that I could not wash these hands. Hoping to keep them firmly in my body, I rubbed my hands together (to absorb the soot and blood)," said the 91-year-old, who now lives in Tokyo.

    Fumiko Morita, who was exposed to the atomic bomb in Nagasaki and lost both her parents and three younger brothers to the bombing, is seen here in Tokyo's Setagaya Ward, on Aug. 19, 2020. (Mainichi/Yoshiya Goto)

    Sixteen years old at the time, Morita was attending a girls' school in the southwestern Japan city. On Aug. 9, the day of the bombing, she had been at a factory on Koyagi Island some 10 kilometers south of the bomb's hypocenter as a member of the "hokokutai," or the school's patriotic group. Suddenly, a violent blast of air came rushing into the cave where the factory was. When the students walked up a nearby hill, they could see a huge plume of smoke over the city of Nagasaki.

    Two days later, Morita returned to her home, which was only around 200 meters west of where the bomb went off. The two-story home had burned down, and her father was found dead still standing against one of the front gates. He was charred completely black. Inside was her mother, also burned alive with her youngest son in her arms. In what had been the living room was a lump of something that was completely burnt; Morita only recognized that it was the remains of her second youngest brother because a strip of his clothing had survived the blast. The eldest of Morita's younger brothers, who is believed to have been trying to catch crabs at a nearby river when the bomb exploded, was never found.

    Morita said, "War is wrong. Once it starts, the people most important to you, adults, and even children, will die. If an atomic bomb is dropped, they die in a flash."

    (Japanese original by Yoshiya Goto, Photo and Video Center)

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