Fait accompli

Even a 'limited' Indo-Pak war would see three million deaths

Published: Sunday 30 June 2002

-- (Credit: Kumar)at least three million people would be killed and 1.5 million seriously injured even if a 'limited' nuclear war takes place between India and Pakistan, warns a new study conducted by a team of us and Asian nuclear researchers.

These estimates are just reflective of the immediate casualty list from blast, fire and radiation that would result if only a tenth of both the countries' nuclear weapons were exploded above 10 of their largest cities. According to Jane's Defence Weekly , India has approximately 150 nuclear warheads, whereas Pakistan is said to have 25-50.

The study also does not take into account the inevitable suffering that would result from the loss of homes, hospitals, water and energy supplies, or the cancers that could develop.

Escalation of tension between India led researchers to investigate the impact of 10 explosions similar to those detonated by the us over the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945. They based the results of their study on the assumption that five bombs, weighing 15-kilotonne each, would explode above Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and New Delhi in India, while another five would explode above Faisalabad, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi in Pakistan.

On the basis of such assumptions, the scientists concluded that hundreds of thousands of people would be killed or badly injured in every city, amounting to 2.6 million in India and 1.8 million in Pakistan. "The prospect is credible and devastating," said M V Ramana, one of the researchers. "It is imperative that the two countries should not have a nuclear war," said Ramana.

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