Tens of thousands gathered in Hiroshima Thursday to mark 70 years since the dropping of the first atomic bomb, with opinion still divided over whether its deadly destruction was justified.

Bells tolled as a solemn crowd observed a moment of silence at 8:15 am local time (2315 GMT), when the detonation turned the bustling city into an inferno, killing thousands instantly and leaving others with horrific injuries to die a slow death.

Children, elderly survivors and delegates representing 100 countries were in the crowd with many placing flowers in front of the cenotaph at Peace Memorial Park, as doves were released into the air.

American B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped a bomb, dubbed “Little Boy”, on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, in one of the closing chapters of World War II.

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Watch: As GOP candidates cavalierly push a new Cold War and take us to the brink of World War 3, we look at firsthand accounts of what survivors saw in a city that suffered a nuclear bomb on the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima.

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