CBS Local — Sumiteru Taniguchi, who was horribly burned but survived the 1945 atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, has died more than seven decades later at the age of 88.
Taniguchi was a 16-year-old postman in Japan when the U.S. dropped their second bomb on August 9; the first was dropped on Hiroshima three days earlier. The devastating attacks killed over 120,000 people and led to Japan’s surrender a week later, ending World War II.
“All of a sudden, after seeing a rainbow-like light from the back, I was blown by a powerful blast and smashed to the ground,” Taniguchi said, per The Guardian, about the bombing during a ceremony in 2015. “This place became a sea of fire. It was hell,” the survivor added.
The Japanese citizen reportedly spent more than three years in a hospital recovering from the blast. Taniguchi became one of the prominent faces captured by U.S. military pictures taken after the blasts. He would go on to become an activist speaking out in favor of nuclear disarmament; using his own experiences as an example of the horrors of nuclear war.
“I am not a guinea pig, nor am I an exhibit. But you who are here today, please don’t turn your eyes away from me. Please look at me again,” the activist said in 2010 while showing pictures of his scorched flesh at a U.N. nuclear treaty signing. “I am worried about what will happen to the world when there are no more atomic bomb survivors,” he added.
Taniguchi died of cancer on Aug. 30 in a Japanese hospital, 72 years after the bombing of Nagasaki. There has not been another nuclear attack carried out since that day.