HARROWING pictures show the true extent of the devastation left in the wake of the world's first atomic bomb 75 years on.
The nuclear weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan on August 6th and 9th in 1945 flattened both cities, killing an estimated 135,000 people.
In July 1945 US President Harry Truman gave the order for atomic bombs - developed by Manhattan Project scientists - to be dropped on six Japanese cities after endless conventional bombing proved fruitless.
The Americans were desperate for a way to put a stop to the conflict, calculating an invasion of Japan would drag on for years and cost a million Allied lives.
But the decision to detonate the devastating bomb remains shrouded in controversey, with Adm William Leahy, who presided over the combined US-UK chiefs of staff writing of his regret.
He said: “[T]he use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender."
What has never been debated, however was the sheer destruction and tragedy left in the bomb's wake.
At 8.15am on August 6, 1965 the Little Boy uranium bomb, 9ft 10in long and weighing 9,700lb, from a height of 31,060ft detonated directly above Shima hospital in Hiroshima after blowing 820ft off course.
After 43 seconds the bomb detonated 1,970ft off the ground, directly above Shima hospital, with a force equivalent to 15,000 tons of high explosives.
It created a blinding flash of light and a fireball 1,200ft across with a core temperature of more than 1,000,000C.
Victims in the immediate blast zone were vaporised, leaving only their shadows on the scorched walls and pavements where they were standing as a shockwave faster than the speed of sound obliterated virtually every building within a mile.
The fireball also sparked devastating infernos that lasted three days. In total an area of more than six square miles was levelled.
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Three days after the Hiroshima blast, the Fat Man plutonium bomb was dropped on Nagasaki killing around 50,000.
Six days later Japan surrendered and the war was over, however it is hotly debated where this was anything to do with the two devastating blast.
The bombings remain a controversial subject to this day, with so many lives lost - either as a direct result of the bombings, radiation poisoning or illnesses and cancers linked to the nucluer weapons.