Thread: Disease X
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Old 11-03-2018, 09:05 AM   #1
iamawaveofthesea
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Default Disease X

'Disease X is still snatching away lives'
By George Weller
Tue 21 Jun 2005 12.17 BST First published on Tue 21 Jun 2005 12.17 BST

Pulitzer prize-winner George Weller was the first western reporter to reach Nagasaki in the aftermath of the atomic bomb. US censors suppressed his dispatches but, 60 years later, his son has unearthed copies of those original reports. Here we print some edited extracts

On August 9 1945, at 11.02am, Nagasaki was devastated by an atomic bomb dropped by an American B-29. George Weller was the first foreign reporter to evade General Douglas MacArthur's news cordon. Slipping away by boat at night from an officially controlled tour of another site, Weller reached the city by train on September 6, and began filing intensively for his paper, the Chicago Daily News - stories and notes totalling tens of thousands of words. All of it was suppressed by the US authorities, which also kept his original typescripts. But in the summer of 2003, a year after Weller's death, his son Anthony found the crate of fragile, discoloured carbon copies his father thought were lost. These extracts - some in abbreviated note form - show Weller's dawning realisation that the effects of the explosion were unlike anything so far seen.

About 70% of the deaths have been from plain burns ... But most of the patients who were gravely burned have now passed away and those on hand are rapidly curing. Those not curing are people whose unhappy lot provides the mystery aura around the atomic bomb's effects. They are victims of what Lt Jakob Vink, Dutch medical officer and now allied commandant of prison camp 14 at the mouth of Nagasaki harbour, calls "disease". Vink himself was in the allied prison kitchen abutting the Mitsubishi armour plate department when the ceiling fell in but he escaped this mysterious "disease X" which some allied prisoners and many Japanese civilians got.

Vink points out a woman on a yellow mat in hospital. She fled the atomic area but returned to live. She was well for three weeks except for a small burn on the heel. Now she lies moaning with a blackish mouth, stiff as though with lockjaw and unable to utter clear words. Her exposed legs and arms are speckled with tiny red spots in patches.

Near her lies a 15-year-old fattish girl who has the same blotchy red pinpoints and a nose clotted with blood. A little farther on is a widow lying down with four children, from one to about eight, around her. The two smallest children have lost some hair. Though none of these people has either a burn or a broken limb, they are presumed victims of the atomic bomb.

"All the symptoms are similar," said the Japanese doctor. "You have a reduction in white corpuscles, constriction in the throat, vomiting, diarrhoea and small haemorrhages just below the skin. All of these things happen when an overdose of roentgen rays is given. Bombed children's hair falls out. That is natural because these rays are used often to make hair fall artificially and sometimes takes several days before the hair becomes loose."
https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...worldwar.media
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