Kamikaze Heroes

a kamikaze plane during World War II
Not only wars create heroes, but extraordinary times as well.  We admire men who put their own lives at risk to save the lives of other people.  We have seen images of men coming into rescue of someone they don’t even know at times of natural disasters, such as floods, hurricanes or even man-made such as fires  or even terrorist attacks. We hail these men as heroes. Each year CNN select a hero out of ordinary citizens for their not- so- ordinary humanitarian deeds.

Kamikaze warriors were seen during World War II. This was the name given to Japanese pilots performing a suicidal mission. Awaiting certain death they sent their planes plunging into the enemy warships in a hopeless effort to inflict damage to the Allied force. We now stand witness to the birth of modern-day kamikazes.

Nuclear disaster is not a regular occurrence. But it is a catastrophe that can affect a multitude, a holocaust. Radiation is an invisible enemy. Like a plague, it creeps stealthily into your doorstep.  It knows no boundaries. It can annihilate a country or send a generation into oblivion. It should be an accident that must be avoided at all cost.

Chernobyl is by far the worst nuclear accident on the planet. Amid hellish fires and explosions, the plant employees did not run away to save themselves.  Engineers Alexei Ananenko, Valeri Bezpalov and Boris Baranov dived into a heavily radioactive water to open the gates and drain a pool in danger of massive steam explosion, therefore avoiding further ejection of radioactive materials from the reactor. They have survived the task. Unfortunately, all three of them suffered from radiation sickness, with Ananenko and Bezpalov later succumbing to it.
 Anatoli Zakharov, one of the firemen who quelled the blaze that eventful night of April 26, 1986 remembered joking to others, "There must be an incredible amount of radiation here. We'll be lucky if we're all still alive in the morning.” He said the firefighters from the Fire Station No. 2 were aware of the risks."Of course we knew! If we'd followed regulations, we would never have gone near the reactor. But it was a moral obligation—our duty. We were like kamikaze.”
Twenty five years hence another nuclear event is impending in Fukushima, Japan. It is not operator related, but induced by natural calamity. It was a race against the clock. Four reactors were verge of a meltdown. A series of explosions rocked the nuclear station, which has sent ripples of fears around the globe. Radiation level inside and outside the plant was high enough to cause harm to the people exposed to it. Evacuation of residents within a 30 kilometer radius was ordered. Many employees of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the plant were sent home, yet some remained. Unfazed by the hazards, they have opted to stay to contain the situation. They are our new heroes.
One of  TEPCO’s employees, Michiko Otsuki wrote:
"People have been blaming Tepco but the staff of Tepco have refused to flee, and continue to work even at the peril of their own lives. Please stop attacking us. As a worker at Tepco and a member of the Fukushima No. 2 reactor team, I was dealing with the crisis at the scene until yesterday (Monday 14th March).
"In the midst of the tsunami alarm (last Friday), at 3am in the night when we couldn't even see where we going, we carried on working to restore the reactors from where we were, right by the sea, with the realisation that this could be certain death. The machine that cools the reactor is just by the ocean, and it was wrecked by the tsunami.
"Everyone worked desperately to try and restore it. Fighting fatigue and empty stomachs, we dragged ourselves back to work. There are many who haven't gotten in touch with their family members, but are facing the present situation and working hard. Please remember that. I want this message to reach even just one more person.
"Everyone at the power plant is battling on, without running away. To all the residents (around the plant) who have been alarmed and worried, I am truly, deeply sorry. I am writing my name down, knowing I will be abused and hurt because of this.
"There are people working to protect all of you, even in exchange for their own lives. Watching my co-workers putting their lives on the line without a second thought in this situation, I'm proud to be a member of Tepco, and a member of the team behind Fukushima No.2 reactor. I hope to return to the plant and work for the restoration of the reactor.”

  1. Chernobyl Accident. Wikipedia 
  2. Michiko Otsuki blog "We are not running away: Fukushima worker". The Straits Times 

2 Response to Kamikaze Heroes

March 20, 2011 at 12:56 AM

I think when this crisis is over and the nuclear plant has been restored. they should create a monument of those workers who opted to stay in the site,because they were true heroes.

April 3, 2011 at 2:49 AM

Truly heroic!

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