Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Remembering Nagasaki

Geez... I feel horrible. I go out of my way to remember the Hiroshima atomic bomb last week, but them completely disregard the anniversary of the Nagasaki atomic bomb.

Hell... at least I've been to Nagasaki. I never made it out to Hiroshima.

On August 9, 1945, three days after Hiroshima was hit by the code-named Little Boy atomic bomb, the US dropped its second atomic bomb on Nagasaki.

The atomic bomb, code named Fat Man, was dropped by parachute from the U.S. B-29 Superfortress Bockscar, flown by 393rd Squadron under commander Major Charles Sweeney. 

Nagasaki was NOT the primary target... that was Kokura, but with a 70 per cent cloud cover obscuring the city, Nagasaki, the pre-determined second target was called for.  

If there was cloud cover over Nagasaki, and with the Bockscar already low on fuel and having to fly to US-controlled Okinawa, the crew decided it would dump the bomb in the ocean. However, rather than that, Navy Commander Frederick Ashworth ordered the bomb to be dropped by radar should the city be obscured by clouds.   

But, at 11:01AM, the clouds broke over Nagasaki, allowing a visual sighting. The bomb was exploded 43 seconds later at a height of 469 meters (1,540 feet) above ground between the Mitsubishi Steel and Arms Works to the south and the Mitsubishi-Urakami Ordinance Works (manufactured torpedoes) to the north, nearly three kilometres northwest of the originally planned hypocenter. 

The Fat Man atomic bomb had a core of 6.4 kg (14.1 lbs.) of Plutonium-239 and provided a blast yield explosion of about 21 kilotons of TNT and generated heat estimated to be around 3,900 Celsius
(7,000 F) with estimated wind speeds of 1005 km/h
(624 mph).

The results were devastating.

US flyboys flying miles from Nagasaki said they saw smoke from fires rising 14,200 metres (50,000 feet).

It was estimated that within the first few months of the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, between 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000–80,000 in Nagasaki, died, with about half of the deaths occurring in each city on that first day.

The US estimates that 15–20 per cent of the people died from
radiation sickness, 20–30 per cent from flash burns, and 50–60 per cent from other injuries, compounded by illness. Needles to say, most of the dead were civilians. 

The US dropped over three million leaflets were over Japan from planes warning the Japanese that
more atomic weapons would be used again  to destroy it unless Japan ended the war. 

Surprisingly, many people did survive the blast(s). Known as hibakusha (it means explosion-affected people), there were as of March 31, 2010 some 227,565 officially recognized survivors. 

The memorials in Hiroshima and Nagasaki contain lists of the names of the hibakusha
who are known to have died since the bombings. Updated annually on the
anniversaries of the bombings, as of August 2010, the memorials record
the names of 269,446 hibakusha in Hiroshima and 152,276 hibakusha in Nagasaki.

Talk about having a really bad week, many people who survived the Hiroshima bombing were transported to nearby Nagasaki for treatment. 

Yamaguchi Tsutomu (surname first) was a niju (double) hibausha. He was three kilometres from ground zero in Hiroshima while on a business trip, and arrived back in Nagasaki on August 8, 1945. He was exposed to radiation while searching for relatives in Nagasaki. He died on January 4, 2010 from stomach cancer. (1916 - 2010).  

As for how many double survivors? A 2006 documentary called Twice Survived: The Doubly Atomic Bombed of Hiroshima and Nagasaki notes 165 "lucky" niju hibakusha.


Files compiled by Andrew Joseph

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