The United States may be unprepared to deal with a terrorist strike from a nuclear bomb.
A Senate panel was told of the grave consequences from an explosion near the White House, the Washington Post reports.
"The scenarios we discuss today are so hard for us to contemplate and so emotionally traumatic that it is tempting to push them aside," the Post quoted Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., the panel's chairman. "However, now is the time to have this difficult conversation, to ask the tough questions, then to get answers."
A one-kiloton device hidden in a briefcase could kill 25,000 people.
There would be many burn victims and the country has specialized burn facilities for only 1,500 patients.
"Burn care is a nightmare. And we're completely unprepared," said Cham E. Dallas, director of the Institute for Health Management and Mass Destruction Defense at the University of Georgia.
There would be many burn victims and the country has specialized burn facilities for only 1,500 patients, according to Dallas.
"Ninety-five percent of burn victims will not receive care. And most of them will die," he said.
Still, emergency response officials in the region say they've made great strides to prepare for a catastrophic event.