Bhopal Residents Mourn Victims

Residents in Bhopal, India prayed and protested for those killed 15 years ago in the world's worst industrial accident.

Residents in Bhopal, India prayed in mosques and temples last Friday for the thousands killed when a deadly gas was emitted from a fertilizer plant 15 years ago in the world's worst industrial accident.

In the early morning of Dec. 3, 1984, more than 40 tons of methyl isocyanate (MIC) and other lethal gases including hydrogen cyanide, leaked from a Union Carbide pesticide producing plant in Bhopal.

However, midst the prayers and mourning, there was much anger at Union Carbide Corp. and its former chairman Warren Anderson.

Protesters said Friday, the company had not done enough to help the families of the 13,164 the state said died from inhaling MIC.

Bhopal was awash in black flags as people marched through the streets on the anniversary of the disaster.

Protesters burned a straw effigy of Anderson. They beat the effigy with sticks and draped it in garlands of worn-out shoes, considered an insult in India.

"Union Carbide should assume continuing liability for long-term health disorders and the loss of jobs caused by the disaster," said Abdul Jabbar, coordinator of the Bhopal Gas Victims Association.

In 1989, Union Carbide paid the Indian governments $470 million as part of an out-of-court settlement. The company accepted moral responsibility for the disaster, but said at the time of the settlement that the plant was sabotaged by a disgruntled employee.

So far, 600,000 people have filed claims of compensation with the Indian government.

Many survivors who breathed the poisonous gas that night still complain of recurring ailments, ranging from breathlessness, constant tiredness and stomach pain to cardiac problems and tuberculosis.

Read about the latest lawsuit filed against Union Carbide regarding the Bhopal accident in the Occupationalhazards.com News archives. Go to the archives and do a search with the keyword Bhopal.

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