Tens of thousands of people from around the world gathered in
Hiroshima yesterday to pray for peace and urge the world to abandon
nuclear weapons on the 61st anniversary of the first atomic
In an annual ritual to mourn the more than 220,000 people who
ultimately died from the blast, a crowd including survivors,
children and dignitaries gathered at the Peace Memorial Park, near
ground zero where the bomb was dropped.
"Radiation, heat, blast and their synergetic effects created a
hell on Earth," said Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba.
Lamenting a global trend towards nuclear proliferation, Akiba
called for a campaign to free the world of atomic weapons.
"Sixty-one years later, the number of nations enamoured of evil
and enslaved by nuclear weapons is increasing," Akiba told the
crowd gathered under a blazing summer sun.
The Peace Bell tolled at 8:15 AM the moment the Enola Gay B-29
warplane dropped the bomb on August 6, 1945 as the crowd stood and
bowed their heads for a moment of silence.
The United States dropped a second atomic bomb on the southern
city of Nagasaki on August 9. Six days later, Japan
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed fear that nuclear
weapons could fall into the hands of "non-state actors."
"More than six decades after the devastation of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki, the unspeakable horror of nuclear weapons remain etched
in our collective consciousness," Annan said in a message read on
his behalf during the 45-minute ceremony.
"The worrying possibility of dangerous nuclear material falling
into the hands of non-state actors should energize efforts to
strengthen the non-proliferation regime."
The atomic bomb had killed some 140,000 people by the end of
1945, out of Hiroshima's estimated population of 350,000. Thousands
more succumbed to illness and injuries later.
The names of 5,350 people who died recently were added to the
list of victims, bringing the total number recognized by the city
to 247,787. A few thousand names are added each year.
(China Daily August 7, 2006)