Hiroshima survivors present personal stories to U.N.

Two atomic bomb survivors from Hiroshima recently spoke with U.N. tour guides and interns in New York to share their personal stories of the horrors they witnessed in Japan in August 1945.

The U.N. Office for Disarmament Affairs organized the event, which provided a rare opportunity for U.N. employees to hear firsthand about the humanitarian impact of the use of nuclear weapons. Lee Jong-kuen and Reiko Yamada, the two hibakusha or atomic bomb survivors, work with Hibakusha Stories to support nuclear disarmament.

At the age of 16, Lee's skin was burned by what he called a killing flash and with no medicine available he put antiseptic on his wounds. The antiseptic made his skin dry and formed scabs. The parts of his body he was unable to reach started to ooze fluid and attract maggots.

Reiko witnessed the B-29 that dropped the bomb at the age of eight and thought it looked pretty before a white flash blocked her sight followed by a burning sandstorm. Shortly thereafter, a cold black rain known as radioactive rain covered her and her friends.

By the end of 1945, 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 70,000 people in Nagasaki died from the attack. Many survivors endured discrimination while suffering from the after-effects of radiation.

The two survivors closed their stories with the hope that people understand how a single atomic bomb can cause horrible death and devastation. They said it is time to stand together and achieve a world without nuclear weapons.