Survivor of 1994 Cult Sarin Attack Dies in Coma
Nagano, Japan, Aug. 5 Kyodo – Sumiko Kono, who survived an AUM Shinrikyo cult sarin gas attack in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, in 1994 but was left bedridden and comatose, died Tuesday of respiratory failure, people familiar with her said. She was 60.
Kono and her husband Yoshiyuki, 58, encountered the attack, which killed seven local residents and injured more than 100, while at home on the evening of June 27, 1994. Kono survived a cardiac arrest, though not without severe lingering effects to her brain.
Shortly after the incident, police raided their home and questioned Yoshiyuki, who was the first to alert authorities of the incident, on a murder charge. Some media reports branded him as a suspect.
He was exonerated after it was determined that members of the doomsday cult committed the crime.
Kono, who remained in a coma at a local nursing facility for years, was taken to a Matsumoto hospital June 11 after developing a fever.
AUM, founded by Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, also staged a sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system in March 1995 that killed a dozen people and injured more than 5,000.
[Sumiko Kono’s] 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.