Human Rights, Politiks, Struggles, Workers

The Bhopal disaster lives on

The world’s worst industrial catastrophe, which claimed the lives of over 25,000 people and left over 150,000 seriously ill, is still harming the area  almost 30 years later, through damaging the Indian city’s water and land.


On the night of December 2nd 1984, the air in Bhopal (India) was transformed into a deadly gas which instantly killed 2,259 citizens. It is estimated that 8,000 residents had died by  the third day. This same air would go onto claim the lives of 25,000 people in subsequent years.

The victims, who were asleep when the disaster occurred, inhaled from the 40 tons of methyl isocyanate and hydrogen cyanide which escaped that night, causing burning of the eyes and respiratory tract. The gas damaged their blood streams and the majority of the victims died from respiratory failure.

The American pesticide firm, Union Carbide Corporation, was held responsible for the incident known as the biggest chemical disaster in history due to the fact that their alarms failed to respond to the toxic fumes being released during routine cleaning of the factory.

In the aftermath of the deadly incident, the multinational company abandoned the factory, leaving behind tons of untreated chemical substances which continue to damage the city today.

The compensation paid by the company to the Indian government for the incident was substantially less than what was demanded and some victims claim that they didn’t even receive the small sum that was finally agreed.

In 2001, Dow Chemical Corporation, also an American firm, bought over Union Carbide, refusing to accept any responsibility for the disaster. The merger has made it possible up until now to bring those responsible to justice.

The effects of the tragedy still continue to contaminate both the earth and water supply of Bhopal today.

As well as all of those who died, an estimated 150,000 victims who survived the incident have been left chronically ill, affected by the toxic substances which have remained in their bloodstream.

Thirty years later, in order to remember the tragedy whilst denouncing those responsible who remain unpunished and are in fact currently sponsoring the Olympic Games, Indian artist ‘Samar Jodha’ presents the multimedia installation ‘Bhopal – A Silent Picture’.

The art installation can be visited from the 19th-31st July (11 am – 7 pm) at Amnesty International UK’s Human Rights Action Centre, 17-25 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EA.
For more information visit:

(Translated by Coleen Tumilty)

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