What happened in Hiroshima?
© UN Photo
In just one ???unspeakable second,??? in early August 1945, the world was changed forever. Since 1942, a secret U.S. weapons program, called the Manhattan Project, had been at work on two revolutionary bombs of such intense heat and explosive force that they would reduce the two target cities??”Hiroshima and Nagasaki??”to vast scorched wastelands. But it was their radioactivity, which remained deadly long after the debris settled and the smoke cleared that changed our world forever.
The Hiroshima bomb was exploded at a height of 580 meters (1,870 ft.) for maximum effect. The bomb??™s explosive force then shot directly down to earth below (ground zero), spread swiftly out to surrounding hills, and then rebounded back into the city. A house-top weathervane was later found pointing toward the city center, a witness to the rebounding force.
The energy release of the Hiroshima bomb [a weapon made from the radioactive element uranium] was the equivalent of 12.5 kilotons of TNT. At burst point, the temperature reached several million degrees Centigrade. This heat was 35% of the bomb??™s total energy release. Hiroshima??™s resident-plus-temporarily present population at that time is estimated at 340,000??“350,000.
[By September 1945, 140,000 people had died as a result of the single atomic bomb used on the port city of Hiroshima. The current death toll, due to radiation induced cancers and immune diseases, is calculated to be over 200,000.]
What happened in Nagasaki?
© UN Photo/Yosuke Yamahata
The bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki was a plutonium bomb, which is said to have been about three times more powerful than the uranium bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The bomb was 3.2 meters in length, 1.5 meters in diameter, and 4.5 tons in weight. It exploded about 500 meters above Nagasaki at 11:02 a.m. on August 9, 1945.
Injuries to Humans
The death toll was 74,000 people, with another 75,000 suffering injuries. Within a 1 kilometer radius of the hypocenter almost 90% of the people died. Burns caused by the heat rays of the atomic bomb were severe, with the surface skin being completely burned??¦ leaving tissue and bone exposed. People were thrown by the force of the blast, and countless pieces of glass and other debris pierced their skin. The radiation penetrated deep into people's bodies, causing them to suffer injuries and diseases such as cancer and leukemia to this very day. [The current death toll due to radiation related disease is over 200,000.]
At the moment of the explosion there was a brilliant flash of light. Ten seconds later an enormous roar sounded and a [forceful] blast swept across the area. Sharp rays of heat emitted massive amounts of radiation. There were no barriers to the spread of radiation. People didn't feel anything abnormal, as this radiation didn't produce sound or heat, but in actuality it had permeated deep into their bodies and affecting them greatly. The temperature directly under the explosion was estimated to be somewhere from 3,000 to 4,000 degrees Celsius. The force of the blast and the heat rays unleashed immediate destructive power, and then fires broke out which severely damaged one third of the buildings in the city, with all building inside a 2 kilometer radius of the explosion burnt to ashes.