Bhopal Gas Tragedy - Documentary by Raghu Rai


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For Greenpeace, Sri Raghu Rai has completed an in-depth documentary project on the chemical disaster at Bhopal in 1984, and on its ongoing effects on the lives of gas victims. This work resulted in a book and three exhibitions that have been touring Europe, America, India and southeast Asia since 2004, the 20th anniversary of the disaster.

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Bhopal Gas Tragedy - Documentary by Raghu Rai

  1. 1. Bhopal Gas Tragedy In the early morning hours of December 3rd ,1984, in the town of Bhopal (State of Madhya Pradesh), a tank of methyl isocyanate gas blew up in the Union Carbide plant, due to a sudden rise in temperature. A toxic cloud stretched over 40 sq/m and about thirty tons of gas were released into the air. 8000 people died during the night, mainly while sleeping, due to the lack of an alarm system of any kind . Those who tried to escape from the disaster got sicker, by exposing themselves. There was no evacuation plan, and rescue was not adapted. It's the worst chemical disaster of the century. Soon after, an inquiry was initiated, but it quickly met numerous obstacles, like the concealment of evidence, and delay of blood analysis of victims so that it was no longer valid. All of this contributes to the fact that we still don't know the exact causes of the catastrophe today. Even after the event, 300 000 people suffered, agonising because of the disastrous effects of the massive poisoning, while none could say if future generations would be affected.
  2. 2. Raghu Rai Raghu Rai was born in the small village of Jhhang, now part of Pakistan. He took up photography in 1965, and the following year joined "The Statesman" newspaper as its chief photographer. Impressed by an exhibit of his work in Paris in 1971, Henri Cartier-Bresson nominated Rai to join Magnum Photos in 1977. Rai left "The Statesman" in 1976 to work as picture editor for "Sunday," a weekly news magazine published in Calcutta. He left in 1980 and worked as Picture Editor/Visualizer/Photographer of "India Today", India’s leading news magazine, during its formative years. From 1982 to 1991, he worked on special issues and designs, contributing trailblazing picture essays on social, political and cultural themes, many of which became the talking point of the magazine. In the last 18 years, Rai has specialized in extensive coverage of India. He has produced more than 18 books, including Raghu Rai’s Delhi, The Sikhs, Calcutta, Khajuraho, Taj Mahal, Tibet in Exile, India, and Mother Teresa. Rai was awarded the ‘Padmashree’ in 1971, one of India’s highest civilian awards ever given to a photographer. In 1992, his National Geographic cover story “Human Management of Wildlife in India” won him widespread critical acclaim for the piece. Besides winning many national and international awards, Rai has exhibited his works in London, Paris, New York, Hamburg, Prague, Tokyo, Zurich and Sydney. His photo essays have appeared in many of the world’s leading magazines and newspapers including "Time", "Life", "GEO", "The New York Times", "Sunday Times", "Newsweek", "The Independent," and the "New Yorker". He has served three times on the jury of the World Press Photo and twice on the jury of UNESCO's International Photo Contest. Raghu Rai lives in Delhi with his family and continues to be an associate of Magnum Photos.
  3. 3. INDIA. Bhopal disaster. 1984. For Greenpeace, Sri Raghu Rai has completed an in-depth documentary project on the chemical disaster at Bhopal in 1984, and on its ongoing effects on the lives of gas victims. This work resulted in a book and three exhibitions that have been touring Europe, America, India and southeast Asia since 2004, the 20th anniversary of the disaster.
  4. 4. This victim was identified as Leela who lived in the Chola colony near the Union Carbide factory. INDIA. Bhopal disaster. 1984.
  5. 5. Burial of unknown children, victims of the Bhopal disaster. More than 8.000 people died during the first days, cemeteries were overcrowded with no space for individual burials. INDIA. Bhopal disaster. 1984.
  6. 6. A family suffering from serious eye and lung damage. INDIA. Bhopal disaster. 1984.
  7. 7. This elderly woman was badly injured when exposed to the poisonous gas. Everyone else in her family died. INDIA. Bhopal disaster. 1984.
  8. 8. A man carries the body of his dead wife past the deserted Union Carbide Factory, the source of the toxic gas that killed her the night before. INDIA. Bhopal disaster. 1984.
  9. 9. Poster of the dead and missing displayed all over Bhopal within days of the disaster. Many bodies were never identified. INDIA. Bhopal disaster. 1984.
  10. 10. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, thousands of sick children were brought to the state government-run Hamida Hospital, their parents too ill to take care of them properly. INDIA. Bhopal disaster. 1984.
  11. 11. A man pastes identification labels onto dead children's foreheads before their cremation.. INDIA. Bhopal disaster. 1984.
  12. 12. Mass cremation of victims held alongside the communal graves. INDIA. Bhopal disaster. 1984.
  13. 13. Survivors of the Bhopal disaster from the nearby Jayaprakash Nagar colony, stand in front of the Union Carbide factory the day after it leaked 40 tonnes of toxic gas on the city. Their eyes and lungs have been badly damaged. INDIA. Bhopal disaster. 1984.
  14. 14. Burial of an unknown child. INDIA. Bhopal disaster. 1984.
  15. 15. Foetuses which were aborted by pregnant women while escaping from the gas, were preserved by Dr. Satpathy, a forensic expert at the State Government's Hamida Hospital, to establish the exact cause of death. 2001. INDIA. Bhopal disaster. 1984.
  16. 16. Nanko, now 76 years old, was independent and able to provide for his family. Since the disaster he has become a beggar. 2001. INDIA. Bhopal disaster. 1984.
  17. 17. Skulls discarded after research at the Hamida Hospital. Medical experts believe that the toxic gas inhaled by the people of Bhopal may have affected the brain. INDIA. Bhopal disaster. 1984.
  18. 18. Bhopal survivors protest in New Delhi, to extradite Warren Anderson, former chief executive of Union Carbide. Anderson is evading justice in the United States and is wanted by Interpol for crimes in Bhopal. 2001. INDIA. Bhopal disaster. 1984.
  19. 19. Gangaram had come to Bhopal to get treatment for leprosy at the Hamida Hospital. He was cured when the toxic gas hit the city. He is now, again, dependent on others for survival. 2001. INDIA. Bhopal disaster. 1984.
  20. 20. Union Carbide abandonned its factory after the disaster, leaving hundreds of tonnes of toxic waste on the site. Until mid 2001 the factory ground was inaccessible. Now local children play in the area which remains dangerously contaminated. 2002. INDIA. Bhopal disaster. 1984.
  21. 21. Muhammed AZIZ returns to the cemetery where 4.000 people were buried in the first days of the 1984 disaster. INDIA. Bhopal disaster. 1984.
  22. 22. Bhopal. 2002. These women have all lost their husbands in the Bhopal tragedy. They now live in one- room tenements in a seperate widows' colony in the outskirts of the city, built by the state government. INDIA. Bhopal disaster. 1984.
  23. 23. Mehboob BI has two daughters and two sons. Her husband was a fitter, on duty the night of the disaster, at the Union Carbide plant. He died of his injuries after 15 years of struggle. The family has no resources to fight the legal battle for compensation. INDIA. Bhopal disaster. 1984.
  24. 24. Mohammed ARIF has pulmonary fibrosis due to the toxic gas, a condition that can only be cured by replacing the lungs. INDIA. Bhopal disaster. 1984.
  25. 25. Bhopal. 2002. Hasan ALI, 70 years old, is a victim of the gas disaster. He suffers from multiple disorders. His seven grown-up daughters say that their education and marriages have suffered heavily from their father's illness. INDIA. Bhopal disaster. 1984.
  26. 26. Bhopal. December 2, 1984, during routine maintenance operations in the Union Carbide plant at Bhopal, a large quantity of water entered one of the storage tanks triggering a runaway reaction that resulted in the deaths of more than 16,000 people and the maiming of more than 500,000 others. Here, Gas victims supported by Jabbar, demonstrated at the railway station. 2004. INDIA. Bhopal disaster. 1984.
  27. 27. Magnum Photos Photo Courtesy