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Incense sticks were burnt in the city on Thursday morning

Residents in the Japanese city of Hiroshima are commemorating the 70th anniversary of the first atomic bomb being dropped by a US aircraft.

A ceremony, attended by PM Shinzo Abe, was held at Hiroshima’s memorial park. People across Japan have observed a minute’s silence to mark the anniversary. In Hiroshima a bell tolled at 08:15 local time – when the US aircraft dropped the bomb that flattened the city centre. Addressing 40,000 people who attended the ceremony Mr. Abe called for worldwide nuclear disarmament.

The bombing – and a second one on Nagasaki three days later – is credited with bringing the Second World War to an end although it claimed the lives of at least 140,000 people in the city. On 6 August 1945 alone, at least 70,000 people are believed to have been killed.

“Today Hiroshima has been revived,” the prime minister said, “and has become a city of culture and prosperity.

“Seventy years on I want to reemphasise the necessity of world peace.”

Mr Abe and Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matusi were joined by US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy for the official ceremony of remembrance on Thursday, which included silent prayers, the release of doves and a declaration of peace. (BBC)