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Monday, February 20, 2012

a 50 kiloton Nuclear Weapon explodes in Pakistan, over Rawalpindi [What-if?]

earlier today: NUKEMAP: Detonate a Nuclear Weapon over any city....or over your own!

Visualising a hypothetical scenario where a 50 kt Nuclear weapon explodes over Pakistan's garrison town, Rawalpindi

The following write-up had been posted by Dr. Shiv Shankar Sastry on the Bharat Rakshak forum. An avid admirer of his posts, it offers anyone reading them a great learning opportunity, with a unique & well thought-out insight on various matters that I find, is sorely lacking in what appears in the MSM. Here, he lays out a scenario where a Nuclear weapon explodes in the garrison city of Rawalpindi in Pakistan & some of the major fall-outs of this explosion.

"Let me write about the effects of a 50 kiloton nuclear bomb on Rawalpindi.

Why Rawalpindi?

After all the net is replete with information about the horrors of a nuclear attack as actually documented in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In addition, MV Ramana has written a scholarly article on a nuclear attack on Bombay (Mumbai) - so what is the need for yet another fake spare-tool scenario of a nuclear bomb on Rawalpindi?

My rationale is simple and it is based on the relatively ignorant and delusional mind-set of the average educated Pakistani.

Deterrence is a funny beast. If a man has a gun it gives him a feeling of security; He thinks of how the gun will help him and does not concern himself too much about what the gun does to someone else. but if you can tell this man what will happen to him if he tries to use that gun and what he will see and feel if he tries to use his gun, he may then begin to use the little thinking power he may have to wonder whether it is a good idea to use his gun at all. That is what deterrence is all about. This is where MV Ramana's admittedly comprehensive work fails. The scenario of a bomb on Bombay is only good to deter Indians. Reading about it can only give joy to moronic "mine is bigger" Pakis or the "save my face" Chinese. After all I am happy to read about anything that might make my enemy suffer.

So it is important to write and document detailed scenarios of what India's nuclear bombs are planned to perform in Pakistani and Chinese cities, starting with Rawalpindi.

Again. Why Rawalpindi, why not Islamabad?

Take a look at this picture comparing the building density and therefore the population density of Islamabad versus Rawalpindi.

Visualising a hypothetical scenario where a 50 kt Nuclear weapon explodes over Pakistan's garrison town, Rawalpindi

Clearly, Islamabad consists of isolated buildings and a lot of parks. Rawalpindi is dense housing. When you use a nuke you have to plan to cause the maximum pain and must select the most highly populated areas. In any case hitting Islamabad is no use. All the yellow Jernails of the Paki army, fathered by the rapists of Bangladesh of 1971 will be hiding in deep bunkers before they use their first nuke on India, inviting this Indian 50 kiloton bomb on Rawalpindi. By hitting Islamabad - you only hit gardens and trees. I will describe Rawalpindi later.

Why 50 kilotons? 50 kilotons is proven and undisputed Indian capability in warheads that are light enough to be delivered by any and every of the delivery vehicles that India has, and Rawalpindi is within range of all of them, and is certain to get hit the day Pakistan launches any nuclear attack on an Indian entity. It is also small enough to reduce the likelihood of fallout reaching India.


Rawalpindi district is huge and consists of many subdivisions such as the Rawal town, Potohar town and others including Murree and Taxila. The total population of Rawalpindi is over 3 million.

The particular area of interest is "Rawal town". The Rawal town area is a densely populated area . It is a roughly triangular area measuring about 30 sq km with a population of about 700,000 - a population density of nearly 25,000 people per sq km. The apex of the triangle juts into Islamabad in the North, while the Eastern boundary includes Islamabad Airport. To the South West of this area lies the Pakistan army GHQ.

The streets of Rawal town are narrow with contiguous lines of poorly built old brick and mortar buildings or newer concrete constructions on either side. Most are two to three stories tall. Typically the first floor has a front balcony or verandah that is enclosed by a decorative (and highly inflammable) wood and glass frontage. Rawalpindi is home to some fabulous open air markets selling everything from food, to silk. The streets in these markets are seething with people, and the street vendors often use a highly inflammable plastic or canvas sheet as a sun shade. Like many cities and towns in the Indian subcontinent - Rawal town is an "outdoors" town because people do not have to remain huddled inside houses to escape from cold. In additions there is the usual component of people who actually live on the streets.

To the South East, several kilometers away lie the posh residences of the Pakistani RAPE - the Rich Anglophone Paki elite, occupying terraced residences or individual houses with manicured lawns in areas such as the Chaklala and Askari housing schemes, Bahria town and the Defence housing authority. To the North lies Islamabad. Below is a Google Earth image of Rawal town

Visualising a hypothetical scenario where a 50 kt Nuclear weapon explodes over Pakistan's garrison town, Rawalpindi

The X on the map indicates the selected point for a 50 kt nuclear bomb to be exploded at the optimum height. It is worth recalling here that 50 kilotons refers (for the mango man) to 50,000 tons of TNT. This is more than the bomb load carried by 7,000 F-16 aircraft exploding at one time and over one spot. Just in case Paklurks need an education.

A 50 kt bomb exploding causes intense flash of heat that melts ceramic and granite for a radius of about a kilometer below the point of explosion. This is followed by a devastating pressure wave that will destroy all concrete structures for a radius of about 2 km. From 2 to 4 km almost every building is brought down, if not severely damaged. In the central zone - winds of up to 800 kmph follow the blast. Even 4 km way there are winds of 400 kmph blasting glass into small shards and that find their way into people who survive a collapsed building. Even beyond the 4 km zone - people who have faces and other parts of the body exposed to the flash will develop "flash burns". Some will go blind while others will require hospitalization for burns.

In general, when a nuclear bomb explodes over a populated area, the people who are killed immediately are affected both by blast and burns and are closest to the hypocenter or "ground zero" above which the bomb exploded. For a 50 kiloton blast this area extends up to a radius of 2 km from the hypocenter. From 2 to 4 km the blast and burn effects are very severe but not invariably immediately fatal - leaving many people injured but alive. Beyond a 3.5 to 4 km radius a large number of people will have minor injuries and flash burns - of which some of the latter can be severe and ultimately fatal especially without medical attention. The injuries other than flash burns are usually due to glass fragments and collapse of light structures. Many of the injured in this zone will additionally suffer radiation sickness adding to mortality.

Based on these general facts it is possible to model the effect of a 50 kiloton nuclear weapon about a kilometer above a point "X" in Rawal Town, Rawalpindi at a spot about 0.5 km west of the east-west runway of Islamabad Airport. The figure below depicts two concentric circles of radius 2 km (blue) and 4 km (orange) from the point below the center of the blast.

Visualising a hypothetical scenario where a 50 kt Nuclear weapon explodes over Pakistan's garrison town, Rawalpindi

Within the blue circle lies an area of about 12 sq km, and in the densely populated environs of Rawal town - the area will have a population of about 300,000, many of them exposed on the street. All buildings in this zone will be crushed burying people within them instantly. Exposed people on the street will be vaporised near the hypocenter. Taking a cue from what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki - one can expect an 85 to 90% mortality in this zone with 5-10 percent alive but injured. For the central zone in Rawal town that would mean more than 250,000 dead and perhaps 10 to 15,000 people injured but alive. Rawal town consist of narrow lanes - which will all be blocked by collapsed buildings and the chances of reaching any injured people in time to rescue them and save them is likely to be remote, unless they can themselves walk out.

Outside the blue circle, but within the orange circle most buildings will be demolished but the chances of being powdered or vaporized instantly are reduced as one goes farther from the center. The decorated wooden frontages of buildings and the sun covers of street vendors, there gas cylinders and lamps will catch fire instantly, and with the blast winds being less severe further away from the center some of these fires will not get snuffed out and will continue to burn. In the Hiroshima/Nagasaki experience, this zone had a mortality of about 25 to 30%. The 38 sq km zone of the orange circle will have more than 400,000 people - who make up the population of Rawal town and other zones around the area. The population density is likely to be smaller over the more posh zones like Askari and Chaklala that fall in this zone but a conservative estimate of 600,000 people is reasonable. A 25 to 30% mortality would leave about 150,000 dead and about 250,000 injured. Of the injured in this zone - many will have severe flash burns and will inevitably die. Others will lie under crushed building debris. Many will have injuries like bullet wounds from flying glass and debris; other will have impact type injuries because they have simply been lifted by an air blast and slammed hard against some surface.

In the zone outside the orange circle Rawalpindi has some densely populated areas and some posh and relatively sparsely populated zones with better constructed houses that may able to withstand the milder blast felt more than 4 or 5 km from the hypocenter. Injuries and deaths in this zone will occur mainly from collapse of light structures, flash burns on exposed skin surfaces, blindness and window glass injuries for people inside homes. These will me most severe just outside the 4 km zone, and reduce as one goes further. In the Japan experience, this zone had a mortality of 1 to 2% and injuries to about 10%. That means - that a million or so people outside the 4 km radius zone will still suffer 20,000 dead and 100,000 injured - though many injuries will be slight.

Counting the cost:

Every city depends, for its survival on a number of "services" that must run 24 hours a day. Each of these services is dependent on thousands upon thousands of people who work to run those services. Foremost among the services required in any city are water, food, sanitation, energy (fuels and electricity) and healthcare.

A disruption in water supply begins to affect a city within one day. Food supply disruption affects people within days. A city may be able to live with poor sanitation, low energy supply and little healthcare for about a week or two after which the city becomes essentially unlivable for most. Even under ordinary circumstances water lines or pumps break down and need repair. Valves need to be turned on and off and water purified and pumped to different areas. Food supplies arrive from outside the city and depend on people to drive the vehicles, load and unload and other people to store, stock and distribute the supplies to retailers and consumers. People need energy to cook and this can range from firewood, to gas to electricity. Firewood and gas (cylinders) need to be delivered by road by people. Electricity is a different ball game. Here again it is maintenance intensive - needing people on the ground to do the work. Garbage collection and disposal, maintenance of sewers and drains, cleaning of streets all require people to do physical inspection and work. Healthcare too is human intensive with one a ratio of 10:1 for the number of people involved in looking after a moderately injured or ill person. If you can wipe out 20% of the workforce or their families, one rapidly brings the services of a city to a standstill.

As detailed above, a single 50 kiloton blast over a crucial populated area of Rawalpindi will kill over 400,000 people and leave a similar number injured. This amounts to about 25% of the population of Rawalpindi. Since most of the people targeted will be poor to middle class, selectively sparing the wealthy who are spread out in their communities, a disproportionate number of the service segment of Islamabad and Rawalpindi will be wiped out ensuring that the cities will become unlivable in a week to ten days time. Even if thousands of people are recruited from outside to come in and help their primary work will be hampered by roads choked with refugees flowing out of the city and their work, in any case will have to be to handle the injured and clear the area of dead rotting bodies before any serious repair work can be undertaken.

250,000 injured people is a huge number. Many will go a few hundred meters or a few km and collapse on the road, with a huddle of relatives around them not knowing what to do. At best, the United States is said to have at any given time the beds to handle 2000 cases of burns simultaneously and that is all over the US. If push comes to shove, the US with its facilities may be able to ramp up that figure to 10,000 cases (again all over the US). There is absolutely no chance of a city like Islamabad/Rawalpindi of handling 35 to 40,000 cases of flash burns simultaneously from a total of 350,000 injured people with all sorts of injuries. No country in the world can do that. Inevitably - many will die and those that die will be the poorer people of the service sector as the rich elite will fill up understaffed hospital beds with even minor injuries.

And this is just one nuke on one city. I believe Pakistani leaders who wish to start a nuclear war with India will have to consider very carefully what they are asking for, and remember that they will probably survive the Indian retaliation, and will emerge from their nuclear bunkers to live in a country such as what I have described above. They will then have to see how long they can continue to live under such circumstances or which country will accept them as refugees if they want to cut and run, after having started a nuclear war."


Also to be read, this wonderful book providing a deep insight into the Pakistani psyche & their traits &  the resulting negative consequences of these on others, especially India.