List of estimated death tolls from nuclear attacks on cities

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Artist's rendering of a nuclear explosion targeting a city.

This is a list of estimated numbers of casualties should a nuclear weapon be detonated in a certain city or other population center.

Method

The effects of any nuclear explosion is dependent of a very large number of factors, including but not limited to type of nuclear device, delivery method, explosion type (whether air burst or surface burst), the target's structural anatomy, and atmospheric conditions. To estimate the number of casualties in addition to this poses an even greater challenge.

A nuclear explosion may not hit a city directly. If distinguished, this list uses the estimate with the shortest distance.

Any nuclear attack will have consequences far beyond the area directly affected by the explosion, and the people killed in the nuclear fireball and its immediate radiation. Aside from the political, military and tactical considerations of nuclear attacks on civilians, additional effects include the subsequent nuclear fallout which spreads radioactive particles across large distances, the potential of nuclear winter and other nuclear-related climate change, and the long-term effects of radioactive exposure on human health, such as radiation-induced cancer. If distinguished, this list takes into account immediate deaths and short-term deaths, and not long-term health complications.

This list only includes estimates made from hypothetical nuclear scenarios and does not include death tolls from actual nuclear attacks. Nuclear weapons have only been used in combat twice throughout history, during the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, which killed approximately 120,000 (±30,000) and 60,000 (±20,000) people, respectively.[1]

Estimates of deaths after nuclear attacks were of especially high interest during the Cold War.[according to whom?]

Estimated death tolls from nuclear attacks on cities

World targets in megadeaths
City Country Population
(millions)[Note 1]
Estimated megadeaths
from nuclear explosion
Percent deaths Date of estimation Nuclear device
used in estimate
(yield in TNT equivalent)
Source(s)
Detroit  United States 1.32 0.22 16.7 % 1979 unspecified 1 Mt weapon [2]
New York City  United States 8.2 3.0 36.6 % 2005 unspecified [3]
Washington, D.C.  United States 1.3 0.3 23.1 % 2011 unspecified 10 kt weapon [4]
Sydney  Australia 4.1 1.75 42.7 % 2005 UR-100 (1 Mt) [5]
Tel Aviv  Israel 1.4 0.22 16.7 % 2013 2 unspecified warheads at 15 kt each [6]
Karaj  Iran 1.1 0.89 79.2 % 2013 unspecified 500 kt weapon [6]
Tehran  Iran 8.2 7.0 84.9 % 2013 5 unspecified warheads at 500 kt each [6]
Tokyo  Japan 37.9 3.2 8.4 % 2017 unspecified 250 kt weapon [7]
Seoul  South Korea 24.1 3.5 14.8 % 2017 unspecified 250 kt weapon [7]
Atlanta  United States 0.49 0.43 86.1 % 1970 8 unspecified warheads [8]
Boston  United States 0.64 0.60 95 % 1970 4 unspecified warheads [8]
Chicago  United States 3.4 0.43 12.6 % 1970 4 unspecified warheads [8]
New York City  United States 7.9 3.2 40.4 % 1970 8 unspecified warheads [8]
Pittsburgh  United States 0.52 0.38 72.1 % 1970 4 unspecified warheads [8]
San Francisco Bay Area  United States 1.3 0.7 59 % 1970 8 unspecified warheads [8]
Seattle  United States 0.5 0.34 64.2 % 1970 4 unspecified warheads [8]
Washington, D.C.  United States 0.76 0.73 96.2 % 1970 8 unspecified warheads [8]

Notes

  1. ^ Here described is the population which was used during the death toll estimate, and may differ significantly from the current population. It may be completely wrong even for the relevant time period. If no population figure is given, the historical population count is acquired from another source.

See also

References

  1. ^ Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
  2. ^ Office of Technology Assessment (1979). The Effects of Nuclear War. Office of Technology Assessment. LCCN 79-600080. 
  3. ^ Corsi, Jerome (2005). Atomic Iran. ISBN 978-1581824582. 
  4. ^ Buddemeier, B. R.; Valentine, J. E.; Millage, K. K.; Brandt, L. D. (2011). Key Response Planning Factors for the Aftermath of Nuclear Terrorism. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. LLNL-TR-512111. 
  5. ^ Dibb, Paul (September 10, 2005). "America has always kept us in the loop". The Australian. 
  6. ^ a b c Dallas, Cham E.; Bell, William C.; Stewart, David J.; Caruso, Antonio; Burkle, Jr., Frederick M. (May 10, 2013). "Nuclear war between Israel and Iran: lethality beyond the pale". Conflict and Health. 7 (10). doi:10.1186/1752-1505-7-10. Retrieved January 4, 2018. 
  7. ^ a b Zagurek, Jr., Michael J. (October 3, 2017). "A Hypothetical Nuclear Attack on Seoul and Tokyo: The Human Cost of War on the Korean Peninsula". 38 North. Retrieved January 4, 2018. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h https://www.dropbox.com/s/fk8gvq14ctp3gjv/nejm199804303381824_t1.jpeg?dl=0

External links

  • NUKEMAP, a (non-scientific) interactive simulator for nuclear explosions and the effects and casualties thereof.


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