Auckland would face 250k casualties in North Korean nuclear attack

New Zealand may be far from the top of North Korea's hit list, but a map has revealed just how devastating the destruction would be if the rogue nation turned on us.

A European think-tank has revealed North Korea is planning a pre-emptive nuclear strike on its enemies, including civilian targets in the Asia-Pacific region such as Japan, South Korea, Guam and Hawaii.

As an ally of the United States, New Zealand is a possible - but unlikely - target, and an attack would lead to horrific consequences. If we were struck by 150 kiloton warheads - the size of the weapon tested in 2017 - online website NUKEMAP warns we could expect over 500,000 deaths and injuries across the country.

As our largest city, Auckland's CBD would likely be obliterated in a first strike. An attack would lead to around 60,000 fatalities and nearly 200,000 injuries.

A fireball as large as 450m wide would engulf its surrounds. Between 50 and 90 percent of the population within a one kilometre radius would die from radiation effects, if they didn't receive treatment. Dying would take between several hours and several weeks.

Most buildings would be destroyed within a 3.7k radius area, and the thermal radiation zone would extend as far as Remuera and Northcote.

An attack on Hamilton would be similarly horrific. Deaths would run as high as 50,000 and injuries could reach 60,000. The long-term effects of the radiation would lead to a massive increase in cancer for the survivors.

Our capital city, Wellington, could also be targeted to destroy our political leadership if North Korea turns on us. There would be as many as 46,000 deaths, and 66,000 would be injured.

An attack would lead to horrific consequences.
An attack would lead to horrific consequences. Photo credit: NUKEMAP

Christchurch's estimated fatalities are as high as 76,000 - with 130,000 people expected to be hurt.

Dunedin's lower population would lower their death toll. Only 35,000 are expected to die, with a similar number wounded.

Howard Broad, the deputy chief executive of the Security and Intelligence Group of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, says New Zealanders need to have an emergency plan ready.

"New Zealand, like other countries, looks to international diplomacy to respond to emerging threats of this nature or other conflict," he told Newshub.

"At the same time, we have what's known as an adaptable all hazards approach to preparedness for a whole range of eventualities.

"Individuals and families are also advised to be prepared in the short term for any emergency situation.  That means keeping their own adequate supplies and having their own emergency plan."

However New Zealand remains safe for now, until North Korea's missile technology has advanced enough to allow them to strike us.

North Korea has yet to prove it can fit uranium and a nuclear warhead on a missile and Auckland University nuclear physicist Dr David Krofcheck says, until they do, we shouldn't panic.

"We shouldn't worry too much, because it is 10,000km away and they haven't even proved they can launch a missile without a warhead," he says.