In pictures: the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

On 6 August 1945, the US dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima in Japan that instantly killed around 78,000 people. Many more would die in the years to come from the effects of nuclear radiation – by the end of 1945 the death toll had reached approximately 140,000. Three days later, on 9 August, a second bomb targeting Nagasaki killed around 35,000 people and the final death toll was calculated as at least 50,000

This photo dated 1948 shows the devastated city of Hiroshima some three years after the US dropped an atomic bomb on the city on 6 August 1945, at the end of World War 2. Around 140,000 people, or more than half of Hiroshima's population at the time, died in the first atomic bombing – with another 70,000 people perishing in the bomb dropped over Nagasaki 9 August 1945. (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

For years debate has raged over whether the US was right to drop the two atomic bombs on Japan during the final weeks of the Second World War.

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Here, we look back at some of the photos taken in the aftermath of the attack…

1945: The aftermath of the bombing at Nagasaki. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)
1945: The aftermath of the bombing at Nagasaki. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)
Aerial view of the mushroom cloud of smoke as it billows 20,000 ft in the air, following the United States Air Force's detonation of an atomic bomb over the city of Hiroshima, Japan, 6 August 1945. (Photo by Time Life Pictures/US Army Air Force/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Aerial view of the mushroom cloud of smoke as it billows 20,000 ft in the air, following the United States Air Force’s detonation of an atomic bomb over the city of Hiroshima, Japan, 6 August 1945. (Photo by Time Life Pictures/US Army Air Force/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Aerial view of the mushroom cloud of smoke as it billows 20,000 ft. in the air, following the United States Air Force's detonation of an atomic bomb over the city of Hiroshima, Japan, August 6, 1945. (Photo by Time Life Pictures/US Army Air Force/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)
Atomic bomb damage in Hiroshima, 1945. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Atomic bomb damage in Hiroshima, 1945. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
A mother and child, dressed in traditional clothing, sit on the ground amid rubble and burnt trees, Hiroshima, Japan, December 1945, some four months after the United States had dropped an atomic bomb on the city. (Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
A mother and child, dressed in traditional clothing, sit on the ground amid rubble and burnt trees, Hiroshima, Japan, December 1945, some four months after the United States had dropped an atomic bomb on the city. (Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
The devastated city of Hiroshima following the US nuclear bombing. (Photo by STF/AFP via Getty Images)
The devastated city of Hiroshima following the US nuclear bombing. (Photo by STF/AFP via Getty Images)
Hiroshima victims take refuge in the rubble of a bank. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
Hiroshima victims take refuge in the rubble of a bank. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
September 1945: Hiroshima survivors wearing gas masks, a month after the catastrophe. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
September 1945: Hiroshima survivors wearing gas masks, a month after the catastrophe. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
The Nagasaki Medical School, which was located around one kilometre from where the American atomic bomb was dropped. The structure of the buildings survived. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
The Nagasaki Medical School, which was located around one kilometre from where the American atomic bomb was dropped. The structure of the buildings survived. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
A view of the devastation caused by the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in Japan on 6 August 1945. Pictured at the forefront is the Ministry of Home Defence (Scientific Advisers' Branch). (Photo by IWM via Getty Images)
A view of the devastation caused by the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in Japan on 6 August 1945. Pictured at the forefront is the Ministry of Home Defence (Scientific Advisers’ Branch). (Photo by IWM via Getty Images)
10 August 1945: An unidentified and injured mother and son pose with boiled rice balls provided by emergency services the day after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan. The pair stand one mile southeast of 'ground zero'. (Photo by PhotoQuest/Getty Images)
10 August 1945: An unidentified and injured mother and son pose with boiled rice balls provided by emergency services the day after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan. The pair stand one mile southeast of ‘ground zero’. (Photo by PhotoQuest/Getty Images)
The reverse of a memorial stone commemorating the destruction inflicted on Hiroshima by the American atomic bomb. (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
The reverse of a memorial stone commemorating the destruction inflicted on Hiroshima by the American atomic bomb. (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
The aftermath of the bombing at Nagasaki. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)
The aftermath of the bombing at Nagasaki. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)
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