Matsumoto sarin victim dies 14 years after attack

The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan/August 6, 2008

Nagano - Sumiko Kono, a survivor of the sarin gas attack carried out in 1994 by the Aum Supreme Truth cult in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, died early Tuesday at a local hospital. She was 60.

Kono was the wife of Yoshiyuki Kono, who was the first to report the incident to authorities. The cause of her death was respiratory failure due to hypoxic brain damage caused by the sarin poisoning.

Her funeral will be private.

With Kono's death, the number of victims of the deadly gas attack in Matsumoto has risen to eight.

Kono and her husband were at home on the night of June 27, 1994, when members of the Aum Supreme Truth cult, which has renamed itself Aleph, sprayed sarin gas in the neighborhood in an attempt to kill judges of the Nagano District Court's Matsumoto branch. Kono was rendered unconscious and her brain suffered severe damage.

Remaining unconscious, she was admitted to a care facility for disabled people in the city in 1998.

She later recovered the ability to move her fingers and open her eyes. But her condition often took a turn for the worse due to pneumonia and respiratory failure, and she was hospitalized a few times every year.

As Kono's condition deteriorated further, she was transferred on June 11 from the nursing facility to Matsumoto Kyoritsu Hospital in the city, where doctors put her on a continuos intravenous drip as she could no longer swallow.

Yoshiyuki received a telephone call from the hospital at about 2:45 a.m. on Tuesday. When he arrived, however, he was informed of his wife's death by the doctor in charge, who said, "It's too late."

In a telephone interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun, Yoshiyuki Kono said, "We're going to mourn my wife [at funeral services to be held] only among my family within the next three days."

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