Photography by Thaddeus Pope
On August 6th, 1945 at 8.15 a.m., an American Boeing B-29 Superfortress named Enola Gay opened its bomb bay doors and released an atomic bomb 31,060 feet (9,470 metres) above the city of Hiroshima, Japan. Forty-three seconds later the bomb reached its predetermined detonation height of 1,968 feet (600 metres), where it exploded with an energy equivalent to approximately 16 kilotons of TNT, causing unprecedented destruction and instantly killing an estimated 60,000 to 80,000 people (around 30% of the city’s population).
At the point of detonation heat rays from the blast exceeded one million degrees Celsius, completely obliterating nearly everything within a two-kilometre radius and causing intense fires which raged uncontrollably for days across nearly five square miles. As most of the city’s medical facilities had been located near the area directly beneath the explosion, medical treatment in the immediate aftermath was virtually non-existent. Tens of thousands of those who survived the initial explosion died in the days and weeks that followed from burns, injuries and radiation sickness caused by the blast and its fallout. In the months and years that followed, the long-term effects of radiation sickness claimed thousands more victims, while survivors, known as hibakusha (被爆者), suffered permanent physical and psychological damage.
Today the people of Hiroshima tirelessly promote the message that nuclear weapons must be eradicated to ensure the future of mankind. To that end, on August 6th every year, which is now known as A-bomb Day, the city of Hiroshima holds the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony in memory of the victims of the atomic bombs and to pray for the realisation of lasting world peace.
All images copyright © Thaddeus Pope. All rights reserved.