THE MARSHALL ISLANDS: Fortuitous Fallout

"It looked like salt," said one of the 82 natives, recalling the shower of radioactive ash that fell on Rongelap atoll in the Marshall Islands in March 1954. "It came down like rain, and it burned when it touched your skin." An unexpected shift of wind had carried the ash from H-bomb tests 150 miles away, off Bikini.

The embarrassed U.S. Navy hastily evacuated the Rongelapese to two distant islands. Navy doctors treated and kept close check on the 45 who had suffered burns. Except for some skin discoloration, they all recovered with no serious permanent damage. But for a...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!