, BHOPAL, Jun 7 – An Indian court was due Monday to hand down verdicts on the Bhopal gas leak, an industrial disaster 25 years ago in which tens of thousands of people died or suffered horrific health problems.
A lethal plume of gas escaped from a storage tank at the Union Carbide pesticide factory in the early hours of December 3, 1984, killing thousands instantly in the world\’s worst industrial catastrophe.
Among those charged are Warren Anderson, then chairman of Union Carbide who left for the United States after the accident, and Indian executives of the company.
Government figures put the death toll at 3,500 within the first three days but independent data by the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) puts the figure at between 8,000 and 10,000 for the same period.
The ICMR has said that until 1994 25,000 people also died from the consequences of gas exposure.
Government statistics compiled after 1994 concluded that at least 100,000 people living near the factory in central Madhya Pradesh state were chronically sick, with more than 30,000 residing in areas with contaminated water.
Dow Chemical bought Union Carbide in 1999 but says all liabilities related to the accident were cleared in a 470 million dollar out-of-court settlement with the Indian government in 1989.