At about 12.30 am I woke to the sound of [my daughter] Ruby coughing badly. The room was not dark but lighted by a street light right outside. In the half light I saw that the room was filled with a white cloud. I heard a lot of people shouting. They were shouting 'bhago, bhago' (run,run). Then [my son] Mohsin started coughing too and then I started coughing with each breath seeming as if we were breathing in fire. Our eyes were burning too. . . . My nephew fell unconscious. Next my son Mohsin stopped groaning as he too fell unconscious. My mother in law suggested that all of us should go to the Hamidia hospital. We left the house, me carrying Mohsin and Ruby holding my hand. My sister in law was also holding two children and my father in law was carrying his favourite grandson who was five years old. It was very cold outside but we were not feeling cold at all. We went out in the clothes (night gown) we were sleeping in with nothing else to cover ourselves. Not even our dupattas or burquas were with us. It was around 1.30 am by then. We did not even lock the house. Nothing mattered. Outside it appeared that a large number of people had passed that way. Lots of shoes and shawls and other clothing were strewn about. White clouds had enveloped everything. Streetlights looked like points of light. Our family got split up. My sisters in law ran in a different direction and the rest of us went towards the main street. I saw lots and lots of people running, screaming for help, vomiting, falling down, unconscious. . . . Mohsin was vomiting on my body. Ruby was also vomiting. I was not able to control my bowels. Faeces were running down my legs. My mother in law was vomiting. She was a heart patient and Hamidia hospital was still two kilometers away much of it uphill. We had just one thought in mind and that was to reach Hamidia hospital. At Bhopal Talkies crossing we all had fallen on the ground. I was two months pregnant at the time. I had a miscarriage right in the middle of the street, my body was covered with blood. There was blood all over. I was unable to control my bowels and the faeces ran down my legs, mixing with the blood. . . . We were not able to talk to each other or even see because our eyes were inflamed. We were wondering what had happened, who had done it. Till then we had no knowledge that there was a gas leak from Union Carbide.The above is an account of what happened on the day an abandoned pesticide factory in Bhopal, India, owned by a multinational corporation that did not consider it important to take major precautions to prevent exterminating Indian people like insects, leaked highly concentrated pesticide and exposed half a million people to it, killing 3,000 people in a single night, 8,000 people within three days, and some 20,0000 people total so far, and leaving 120,000 to 150,000 live people still suffering from the aftereffects of pesticide exposure 20 years later, of whom 50,000 are too injured to be able to hold jobs anymore.
And even now, 20 years later, Union Carbide and the Dow Chemical Company that has since purchased them and all their accompanying liabilities still refuse to divulge the chemical composition of that cloud that poisoned half a million people, even though withholding that information prevents doctors from knowing how best to treat the continuing injuries. Furthermore, the factory site remains contaminated with pesticides and continues polluting the groundwater to this day. Every month, some 10 to 30 people in Bhopal continue to die from the ongoing pollution and aftereffects of the original exposure. Children of the original victims are afflicted with birth defects, and their children may be afflicted as well.
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