According to newly declassified documents published by a London newspaper, the US Air Force came frighteningly close to accidentally detonating a huge atomic bomb over North Carolina in 1961.

Two hydrogen bombs were accidentally dropped over the city of Goldsboro on January 23, 1961 when the B-52 plane carrying them broke apart in mid-flight and one of the bomb's detonation sequence began. According to the secret report a single switch was all that stopped it from doing so. The three other safety mechanisms designed to prevent an unintended explosion failed.The US government has acknowledged the accident before, but this document is the first confirmation of how close the United States came to nuclear catastrophe on that day over 50 years ago.

The documents reveal that the bomb was more than 250 times more powerful than the one that devastated Hiroshima in 1945. The accident happened at the height of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.The newly declassified report was obtained by American journalist Eric Schlosser under freedom of information legislation.