Hiroshima - Aftermath
No one will ever know for certain how many died as a result of the attack on Hiroshima. Some 70,000 people probably died as a result of initial blast, heat, and radiation effects. This included about twenty American airmen being held as prisoners in the city. By the end of 1945, because of the lingering effects of radioactive fallout and other after effects, the Hiroshima death toll was probably over 100,000. The five-year death total may have reached or even exceeded 200,000, as cancer and other long-term effects took hold.
The immediate cause of death was primarily from burns, 60% at Hiroshima. The burns were a result of either the radiation flash burns or the fires that engulfed blocks of the city after the bombings. Falling debris accounted for another 30% of deaths at Hiroshima. Other causes accounted for the last 10% killed at Hiroshima. About 30% of those who died in Hiroshima had received lethal doses of radiation; however, this was not always the immediate cause of death.
The initial effects are most closely related to the proximity and size of the fireball. At Hiroshima more than 80% of the population within 0.6 of a mile of ground zero were casualties, and over 90% of these casualties were killed. In contrast, of individuals who were beyond approximately 1.6 miles from ground zero, less than 5% were killed.
At 11:00 a.m., August 6 (Washington D.C. time), radio stations began playing a prepared statement from President Truman (right) informing the American public that the United States had dropped an entirely new type of bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima -- an "atomic bomb." Truman warned that if Japan still refused to surrender unconditionally, as demanded by the Potsdam Declaration of July 26, the United States would attack additional targets with equally devastating results.
Two days later, on August 8, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan and attacked Japanese forces in Manchuria, ending American hopes that the war would end before Russian entry into the Pacific theater. By August 9th, American aircraft were showering leaflets all over Japan informing its people that "We are in possession of the most destructive explosive ever devised by man. A single one of our newly developed atomic bombs is actually the equivalent in explosive power to what 2,000 of our giant B-29s can carry on a single mission. This awful fact is one for you to ponder and we solemnly assure you it is grimly accurate. We have just begun to to use this weapon against your homeland. If you still have any doubt, make inquiry as to what happened to Hiroshima when just one atomic bomb fell on that city."
About a month after the A-bomb was dropped, the temporary first-aid stations established in hospitals and schools around the city, gradually returned to normalcy. People who had escaped to the suburbs began to come back one by one to the city which had become a wide stretch of burnt-out ruins. They built shacks made of tin sheets dug out of the ruins and started life again. However, back in the city, they experienced a state of lethargy since there were no companies or factories to employ them, there was not enough food to eat, and they were worried about developing A-bomb related diseases.
At that time, a typhoon hit the city. It raged from the middle of the night on September 17 to the next morning. The burnt city was completely sub-merged and the air-raid shelters and shacks in which the A-bomb survivors lived were destroyed. The people were hard hit, losing their place to sleep and what little belongings they had. Quite a few of them gave up living in the city and went back to the countryside again.
After the typhoon had passed, autumn suddenly arrived. Beautiful weather continued for some time and green weeds started to grow here and there in the burnt city. The plants were horseweed, which grew as tall as an adult person. Using the horseweed as a main ingredient, dumplings were made and sold in Eba and other areas which had remained unburnt. People who could go no longer on an empty stomach ate them to relieve their hunger, though they were unappetizing.
According to foreign news dispatches, Hiroshima, contaminated by radio- activity, would be barren for the next 70 years and no one would be able to live there. However, finding green weeds starting to grow again, hibakusha (A-bomb survivors) were given new hope for life.
To prevent any further tragedy wrought by nuclear weapons, the City of Hiroshima has poured its energy into pleading for the abolition of nuclear weapons and the realization of lasting peace. Since the end of the war it has continually endeavored to develop as a "city of peace" - a "symbol of sincere effort being made toward lasting peace" - as expressed in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial City Construction Law.
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