ENTERTAINMENT | Island News

Fijian nuclear test veteran dies after years of suffering

Source: DAILY MIRROR, LONDON Fifty years ago he watched the sea boil as a nuclear bomb exploded in front of his eyes. Last weekend Pita Rokaratu, a Fijian who served
19 Mar 2012 09:59

Pita Rokoratu, nuclear test veteran.

Source: DAILY MIRROR, LONDON

Fifty years ago he watched the sea boil as a nuclear bomb exploded in front of his eyes. Last weekend Pita Rokaratu, a Fijian who served with the Royal Navy, died just days before a final insult from the country he sacrificed his health for.
On Wednesday the Supreme Court in London threw out Pita’s last appeal, saying he had left it too long to bring his case.
Mr Rokaratu, 75, was one of 10 test cases from a group of 1011 nuclear test veterans who have fought for eight years to bring Britain’s Minister of Defence to trial for negligence. Of the 10 veterans, five are now dead.
The treatment of former soldiers by Britain is in stark contrast to other nuclear powers.
Russia, China, France, the US and Canada all pay compensation to their test veterans. Australia and New Zealand give medical treatment to veterans with certain medical conditions. The Isle of Man pays all its vets £6000 compensation.
Mr Rokaratu’s friend Ken McGinley, who was stationed with him on Christmas Island in the South Pacific in 1958, paid tribute, saying: “Pita was a gentle giant. I’m glad his suffering is over and he passed away before learning of this final kick in the teeth. He volunteered to go to Christmas Island, and he deserved so much better than we gave him.”
Mr Rokaratu, who leaves behind four children and five grandchildren, gave evidence in the veterans’ case about how he witnessed three hydrogen bombs as part of Operation Grapple.
He said: “We could see the brightness of the flash through our hands and then we felt the intense heat on our backs.

  • “I saw the seawater bubbling and the coral, with the sand, seemed to be sucked up into the middle of the huge cloud.”

After Mr Rokaratu returned home his health worsened and he was diagnosed with an enlarged heart.
He also coughed blood, had fluid on his lungs, growths on his body ruptured like boils and he -developed weeping sores.
While his life was afflicted by radiation he died from a heart attack, which means his death cannot be attributed to the tests.



5square-mothersday


Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.


By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.


Covid 19 - SPC
Total
Subscribe-to-Newspaper
Fiji Sun Instagram
Subscribe-to-Newspaper