New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Bhopal Gas Tragedy, also referred as 'Bhopal Disaster', was one of the world's industrial disasters that struck Bhopal on the intervening night of December 2-3 in 1984. The incident, which left the whole world shock, killed nearly 2,200 while dozens were left exposed to the deadly methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas, leaving them with lifelong health complications.

An estimated half-a-million people were exposed to the methyl isocyanate gas leaked from the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal as a result of the disaster. Five years after the tragedy unfolded, the Union Carbide Corporation, which owned a majority stake in UCIL, paid USD 470 million to settle litigations stemming from the disasters.

How the disaster unfolded

The disaster was the culmination of design flaws, maintenance failures, operation errors, among others. Much of the details of the night remains unclear but there is no denying that the plant's MIC related safety feature were malfunctioning and many lines were in poor condition. 

The gas leak was reported in Plant Number C. Reportedly, methyl isocyanate was mixed with large volumes of water. An estimated 40 tonnes of MIC was leaked from the factory in the first two hours, and it was carried from the factory premise to the city by cold morning breeze. The alarm, meant to warn the public, was briefly sounded at 12: 50 pm but was promptly shut -- as per the procedure laid out to avoid alarming the public about the otherwise tiny leaks. 

Aftermath

On the morning of December 3, lakhs of residents of Bhopal woke up coughing and choking, with sore eyes. Thousands died in the first two week itself, lakhs others developed serious health complication that many of carry to this day.  Among those worst affected were, naturally, the people who lived closest to the plant. 

Posted By: Lakshay Raja