Seventy years ago today, an American B-29 bomber dropped a 21-kiloton nuclear bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. In her new book, Nagasaki: Life after Nuclear War, Susan Southard describes what happened next:
“The thermal heat of the bomb ignited a fireball with an internal temperature of over 540,000 degrees Fahrenheit...Within three seconds, the ground below reached an estimated 5,400 to 7,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Directly beneath the bomb, infrared heat rays instantly carbonized human and animal flesh and vaporized internal organs.
“Where the northern half of Nagasaki had existed only an hour before, a low heavy cloud of smoke and dust hovered over a vast plain of rubble. Nothing remained of the dozens of neighborhoods except tangled electrical wires and an occasional lone chimney. The huge factories that had lined the river near Nagasaki Station were crumpled into masses of steel frames and wooden beams, and the streetcar rails were, in one survivor’s words, 'curled up like strands of taffy.'”
The article, and (I strongly suspect) the book from which it is excerpted, are worth reading in full, courtesy of Tom Dispatch and Salon.com.
(My thanks to Shana Dennis for bringing this piece to my attention.)
(Above image via atomicheritage.org)