What happened at Bhopal?

The Bhopal disaster is one of the most shocking examples of the negative impact that large Trans National Corporations (TNCs) can have in Less Economically Developed Countries (LEDCs).

The incident concerns a poisonous gas leak at a chemical works run by US-based TNC Union Carbide in Bhopal, India, in the early hours of December the 3rd 1984. The initial event is thought to have killed around 10,000 people, with tens of thousands more suffering long term injuries. Serious birth defects are still common in the Bhopal area as a result. There is widespread feeling that Union Carbide was not running the plant as safely as it would have done in an MEDC and was slow to react. There is still widespread resentment at the perceived inaction of Unioin Carbide to admit responsibilty and pay for cleaning Bhopal up, including compensating the victims.

Bhopal arouses strong opinions on those on different sides of the divide over whose responsibility it was and this should be borne in mind when investigating resources and opinion pieces about the event and its aftermath.

The BBC has a relatively well-balanced Bhopal webpage with lots of information and eyewitness reports here:


There is also a news report from the time of the inciedent:


An overview of the details of the event can be found here:


There is a great little thinking exercise to help you understand what happened here:


There is a useful video explaining the disaster here:



25 years later, there are still people suffering the effects of the leak:


The Bhopal Medical Appeal website can be found here:



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