Eldest Bikinian dies on Ejit

Lirok Joash, with granddaughter Walur Kelen and great granddaughter Lirok Kelen, on Ejit Island in 2018. She died last week at her home at 95. Photo: Hilary Hosia.

The eldest Bikinian died last week Wednesday at her home in Ejit Island, Majuro.
Lirok Joash, who was 95, was in good health virtually until the day she died last week.
She was one of the original 167 Bikinians who were relocated from Bikini in 1946 to make way for the first post-World War II nuclear weapons tests in the Marshall Islands.

She also had the misfortune to be among a group of about 100 Bikinians who resettled Bikini in the early 1970s because US authorities told the Bikinians that Bikini was safe for resettlement. In 1978, after the Bikinians living at the former nuclear test site had ingested unsafe levels of radiation from eating locally grown food and using well water, Lirok and the other Bikinians were relocated a second time.

At her burial last Friday on Ejit, Jack Niedenthal recognized Lirok as someone who was always willing to tell the story of the Bikinians to visiting journalists.
She is survived by children Alson Kelen and Bertina Bill; her other son, Anjen Kelen, pre-deceased her.


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