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Sometimes you are in the wrong place at the wrong time but it seems lady luck has your
We might take the case of Dutch cyclist Maarten de Jonge who was said to have cheated death
twice after being scheduled to travel on the two doomed flights, Malaysia Airlines MH17
and MH370, but he didn't end up getting on either plane.
But what about the Croatian man Frane Selak.
It's said he has escaped death no less than seven times, including being on a train that
flipped off tracks and hurtled into a river.
17 died, but not him.
It's said on his first plane trip he was blown out of the door, fell to Earth and landed
on a haystack.
He was ok, but 19 people died that day.
He survived more deadly events and then won over a million dollars in the lottery in 2003.
But today we have a special case for you concerning the few human beings that have been on the
right side of fortune.
He's special because no one that ever existed has been in his shoes.
Many people have been lone survivors of catastrophe, but there is no person on record that has
survived two nuclear bombs.
We are of course talking about the two bombs the USA dropped on Japan at the end of the
second world war.
The first of those bombs was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945,
and the second bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki three days later.
Just before we introduce you to our man of the day, we should probably look at just how
lucky he was.
At the time of the Hiroshima bombing it's thought that the population of the city was
around 340,000–350,000.
Many of those people recounted later that they heard an explosion and saw a very bright
Many others saw the same, but were unable to later recount their experience because
they were dead.
It's said that of the entire city population around 70,000 or 80,000 people either died
instantly or died soon after due to severe burns.
So, that's a rather large chunk of the population, and we should say that many more people died
later from injury or radiation exposure.
You can try and find total deaths in historical resources, but no one seems to agree on the
Many resources say that just months after the bomb was dropped the death toll was around
140,000, not that much less than half of the city's residents.
The U.S. Department of Energy tells us after five years the number could have been as high
as 200,000, while some Japanese resources say even higher.
While these deaths were from long-term effects, the man in today's show sailed through decades
after the bombs were dropped.
On top of that, the Japanese later said that around 70 percent of the city's buildings
were totally destroyed and quite a few more were damaged.
Getting out of this almost unscathed was not easy by any means.
But as we know, the Allies weren't finished just yet.
Over in the industrial city of Nagasaki, the population at the time of the bombing was
said to be in the region of 260,000.
These people were about to get their version of a big bang and a very bright light.
The star of today's show was about to experience this for the second time in three days.
Many of the city's factory workers, families, and students, were instantly killed, but again,
the exact number varies and you can find wide estimates.
The number given for immediate deaths after the bomb is usually 40,000 to 75,000, but
most agree that by the end of 1945 the number was around 80,000.
The U.S. Department of Energy tells us that after five years you could probably double
that number.
So, that's around 160,000.
Let's just say that at the time of the bombing maybe close to a third of Nagasaki's residents
(also non-residents such as POWs) died.
No doubt the focus of our show today was asking himself if dropping the second bomb was overkill.
Many people today say there was really no need to hit a second city, but we won't
get into that.
Ok, so it's about time we introduce you to our man.
His name was Tsutomu Yamaguchi.
He was born in 1916 and lived until 2010, making him a natural survivor as well as someone
who's dodged a rather large bullet a couple of times.
Just so you know, while others may have survived both bombs, he is the only person who the
Japanese government recognize as doing so.
Ok, so Mr. Yamaguchi in this thirties actually lived in Nagasaki, but he made the unfortunate
decision, or was told, to go to Hiroshima on a business trip in the month of August,
At the time he was working for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and it's said business
wasn't exactly booming as Japan was suffering in its war effort.
In fact, Yamaguchi, who never thought Japan would go to war, said later in interviews
that he had considered killing his entire family with pills if Japan lost.
He also explained what happened on the big day.
When the blast occurred in Hiroshima he said he had just got off a tram.
What's surprising is that this tram was a mere two miles (3km) from Ground Zero.
In an interview in 2005 he said this of the moment it all happened, “It was very clear,
a really fine day, nothing unusual about it at all.
I was in good spirits.
As I was walking along I heard the sound of a plane, just one.
I looked up into the sky and saw the B-29, and it dropped two parachutes.
I was looking up at them, and suddenly it was like a flash of magnesium, a great flash
in the sky, and I was blown over.”
Three miles away is certainly close enough to be one of those immediate fatalities we
talked about.
He didn't exactly take it on the chin, though, explaining that he was temporarily blinded,
had his eardrums popped and suffered burns to the top half of his body.
He later said this, “When the noise and the blast had subsided I saw a huge mushroom-shaped
pillar of fire rising up high into the sky.
It was like a tornado.”
In another interview he said, “I didn't know what had happened.
I think I fainted for a while.
When I opened my eyes, everything was dark, and I couldn't see much.
It was like the start of a film at the cinema, before the picture has begun when the blank
frames are just flashing up without any sound.”
Believe it or not, he told the press years later he decided the best thing to do was
to go back home to Nagasaki and report for work.
Covered in bandages he made his way the next day to the train station, looking at the devastation
around him, risking radiation poisoning (he didn't know that), to find a way back to
his presumably safe city.
He said he encountered dead bodies strewn around; it was mayhem.
Bodies floated in the river like blocks of wood, he said.
He had to cross that river since the bridge was destroyed, saying he trod on the bodies
of women and children and men, what he called his “Human raft.”
Walking through the streets he described what he saw, people, bodies, “their skin had
peeled, their flesh was wet and mushy … And they had no faces!
Their eyes, noses and mouths had been burned away, and it looked like their ears had melted
He managed to get back to Nagasaki and was relieved to find his wife and 6-month old
son alive and well.
News didn't travel too fast back in those days, and Yamaguchi told his bosses of the
devastation a bomb had caused in Hiroshima.
He said they didn't believe him that just one bomb could flatten a whole city and they
questioned his sanity.
They would soon know exactly what he was talking about, because their city was next.
This is what he said in a translated interview with the American media many years later,
“I was telling my company supervisor in Nagasaki that one bomb had destroyed all of
He told me I was crazy.
Just as he said that - the bomb fell on Nagasaki.”
He also said just before that happened his boss had said to him, “You're an engineer!
Calculate it.
How could one bomb...destroy a whole city?”
That's how, might have been the answer.
On the day of the bombing yet again Yamaguchi was about three miles from Ground Zero.
Again he was knocked to the ground, but he managed to get to his feet and had no idea
what was going on.
You must remember that the world had no idea something so powerful existed, it wasn't
as if Yamaguchi had watched infomercials that people in the West saw years later talking
about the deadly destruction of an atomic bomb.
Yamaguchi later said in an interview, “I thought the mushroom cloud had followed me
from Hiroshima.”
This time his family weren't so safe, and while they weren't as close to ground zero
as the patriarch, they felt the bomb.
In a strange twist of fate, his wife that day had been out looking to buy ointment that
could help with her husband's burns.
Her house was much closer to ground zero than the place she was at the time of the explosion.
Yamaguchi later said that the fact he'd been hit by the first bomb might have saved
his wife from the second bomb.
Even so, Yamaguchi's daughter said years later in an interview that her mother had
told her she was “soaked in black rain and was poisoned.”
She lived until 88, but did die of liver and kidney cancer.
Her brother would also succumb to cancer in his 50s and her older sister she said had
been chronically ill her entire life.
She even said that she believes her mother passed the poison she had been engulfed with
to them.
During life after the bombings Yamaguchi was quiet and very rarely spoke about his experience,
but later he said he felt compelled to talk about the horror of nuclear war.
“My double radiation exposure is now an official government record.
It can tell the younger generation the horrifying history of the atomic bombings even after
I die,” he said.
In a separate interview he also said, “Having been granted this miracle it is my responsibility
to pass on the truth to the people of the world.”
One day Yamaguchi said he hoped there would be no bombs that destructive in the world,
that countries would agree not to chase such technology that could almost destroy every
person on the planet and undo civilization as we know it.
In one of his final interviews he said, “Japan can't rid the world of nuclear weapons by
The whole world needs to hold hands and prevent this type of war.
Mr. Obama is now the US President and I listened to his speech.
Maybe there is hope.”
He died in January, 2010, from stomach cancer.
What do you think about this survivor's tale?
Tell us in the comments.
Also, be sure to check out our other show The Luckiest Unlucky Man That Ever Lived.
Thanks for watching, and as always, don't forget to like, share and subscribe.
See you next time.
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The Only Man To Survive TWO Nuclear Bombs

155 Folder Collection
MCX~mighty combat X published on September 7, 2019
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