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Bhopal: The world's worst industrial gas disaster
by Tahir Khan
2008-12-03 09:09:49
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My mother woke me and my other siblings in the middle of the night and my whole family was ready to run away from the city. When I came out of the home, I found people crying and running here and there and also dead bodies scattered - in beginning I did not know why everyone was running haphazardously but later we heard that toxic gas had leaked from the Union Carbide Pesticide Plant which is situated very close to the city.

I am talking about the Bhopal (capital of Madhya Pradesh, State of India) Gas Disaster which occurred on 3 December 1984.  In the middle of the night 42 tonnes of the lethal gas methyl isocyanide was accidentally released into the atmosphere by the Union Carbide Pesticide Plant (currently known as Dow Chemical Company) and around 600,000 people came directly into contact with this gas.  This is also known as the worst industrial gas disaster.

The reason of the gas leak from the plant is that the 42 tonnes gas storage tank of methyl isocyanate accidentally reacted with the water and due to the chemical reaction the supply line burst and released the toxic gas into the atmosphere.

The gas cloud spread over the city and according to the rough estimate around 10,000 people died on the that day and till now the death toll has reached more than 25000, while 200,000 people received permanent injuries related with eyes, lungs or heart and around 200,000 were partial injured and suffered from many problems. This gas also produced genetic deformities in newborn babies and countless numbers of animals also died and even plants were affected by the gas.

After a long battle, Union Carbide gave compensation of $470 million to the gas victims.  State and central also provide the relief of victims in many ways like hospitals or rehabilitation units, for example.

But there are many questions still unanswered:
Why government allow lethal pesticide factory near the population.
Why people did not get compensation within time frame and properly.
Why the factory was not following proper safety measures.

For more, visit:

Cover photo from: http://bhopal.org/factory

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