This year marks the 78th year of the attack. The atomic bomb dropped by the United States on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, destroyed the city killing 1,40,000 people, and a second bomb dropped three days later on Nagasaki killed an additional 70,000.
The anniversary is primarily meant to remember and honour the victims of the day’s atomic bombing.
It serves as a way to pay tribute to the immense human suffering and tragedy caused by the use of nuclear weapons.
The survivors of the atomic bombings, known as hibakusha, often use August 6 to share their experiences and advocate for peace and nuclear disarmament and the prevention of further use of nuclear weapons.
It provides a platform for their voices to be heard and their stories to be acknowledged.
“The explosion and subsequent fires caused by the bomb obliterated an estimated 90 per cent of Hiroshima’s buildings and caused immense destruction over a 13-square-kilometre area. The immediate death toll from the bombing was approximately 70,000 people, with thousands more succumbing to injuries and radiation exposure in the following weeks and months.”
The observance came two months after Hiroshima hosted a summit of the Group of 7 major industrial nations, at which the G7 leaders visited the city’s peace park and a museum dedicated to those who died in the world’s first atomic attack.
Revisiting The Attacks
The bombing of Hiroshima occurred on August 6, 1945, during World War II. The B-29 bomber aircraft named “Enola Gay” dropped an atomic bomb on the city at 8:15 AM local time. The bomb, codenamed “Little Boy,” was made of uranium-235 – had an explosive yield equal to 15,000 tonnes of TNT.
It razed and burnt around 70 per cent of all building and caused an estimated 1,40,000 deaths by the end of 1945, along with the increased rates of cancer and chronic disease among the survivors. It was the first time such a weapon had been used in warfare.
The bombing of Hiroshima and a subsequent bombing of Nagasaki three days later levelled 6.7 sq km. of the city and killed 74,000 people by the end of 1945. The ground temperatures reached 4,000 degree Celsius and radioactive rain poured down. This attack played a significant role in Japan’s decision to surrender to Allied forces on August 15, effectively ending World War II. The second world war had begun on September 1, 1939, after Germany invaded Poland.
The events ended Japan’s nearly half-century of aggression in Asia. The war was declared by the US on Japan, after the Japanese military launched a surprise attack on the US Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. The attack was a response to the US’s act of supplying weapons to Great Britain in the fight against Nazis in Germany and its efforts to halt Japan’s military expansion in Asia and Pacific, the National WWII Museum, US stated.
The explosion and subsequent fires caused by the bomb obliterated an estimated 90 per cent of Hiroshima’s buildings and caused immense destruction over a 13-square-kilometre area. The immediate death toll from the bombing was approximately 70,000 people, with thousands more succumbing to injuries and radiation exposure in the following weeks and months.
The damages in both the attacks made it nearly impossible to provide aid. In Hiroshima, 90 per cent of physicians and nurses were killed or injured – 42 of 45 hospitals were rendered non-functional – and 70 per cent if victims had combined injuries including severe burns.
It takes around 10 seconds for the fireball from a nuclear explosion to reach its maximum size, but the effects last for decades and span across generations. Five to six years after the bombings, the incidence of leukaemia increased noticeably among survivors. After about a decade, survivors began suffering from thyroid, breast, lung and other cancers at higher than normal rates, including birth defects in their descendants.
Pregnant women exposed to the bombings experienced higher rates of miscarriage and deaths among their infants. Their children were more likely to have intellectual disabilities, impaired growth and an increased risk of developing cancer.
In the following decades, though both the Japanese cities revived themselves from their ashes, the scars of the bombing, physical and emotional, still remain. And for all survivors, cancers related to radiation exposure still continue to increase throughout their lifespan, even to this day, decades later.
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