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Survivor Remembers Day the Atomic Bomb Was Dropped On Hiroshima

August 6th marks the 60th anniversary of the first atomic bombing of a city. The explosion took place in Hiroshima, Japan. Thousands died as a result, but others survive to this day. VOA's George Dwyer takes a look back at the world's first nuclear attack.

Seventy-five-year-old Hitoshi Takayama survived the bombing of Hiroshima 60 years ago. Today he still shares his memories with students and others. Recalling that date he says, "Suddenly, the illuminating light, like the flash of the camera, but 10 times and 100 times fiercer than that, pierced through the room and it spread all over the room. I felt more than heat in that light. It was so fierce and I felt pain to be exposed to it."

American scientist Robert Oppenheimer, the so-called father of the bomb, had directed the U.S. bombing crew on where to drop the bomb.

Author Kai Bird, who wrote a biography of Robert Oppenheimer -- one of the developers of the weapon -- says, "His instructions were it had to be dropped on the center of the city, not on a military target, because the city itself was a target."

Hitoshi was a middle school student when the A-bomb blast burst over Hiroshima. What followed haunts him to this day. "I saw people almost naked and black all over with the burned ashes. Their skin looked like rags and it hung. Their skin on their hand hung below their nails. They had their upper arms pressed against their torsos and stood there motionless. When I saw the figures like those people for the first time, I am sorry to say this, but, I thought I did not want to see this and it was so grotesque. They just did not look human."

Today the city of Hiroshima has been largely rebuilt. But reminders remain, and the damage the bomb did is still not done.

People here are still dying of cancer related to the bomb says Radiation Effects Researcher Charles Waldren. "There's many more than half of the cancers yet to be seen from the original cohort. So we will see more cancers in the survivors that are left," he said.

Hitoshi was one of 200 people who attended a memorial service near Hiroshima recently. The survivors are preserving the memory of those who died here.