News Clippings – 1984-1990: The Unfolding Medical Disaster

News Clippings – 1984-1990: The Unfolding Medical Disaster

1984

MORE DEATHS LIKELY IN BHOPAL: US EXPERTS

from the Times of India

6/12/84. American toxicology experts believe that many more people in Bhopal may die of the secondary effects of the poisonous gas MIC. These experts say that the people who have survived so far could die as a result of ordinary respiratory infection because their lung tissues are damaged by the gas.

PEOPLE EXPOSED TO MIC MAY SUFFER NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS

from the Patriot

9/12/84. The report is about the possibility of behavioral disorders and chronic nervous disease. According to neurotoxicologists people who were exposed to the poisonous MIC gas might suffer from neurological disorders.

GAS VICTIMS HAVING BREATHING TROUBLE, BURNING FEELING IN EYES

from the Patriot

12/12/84. General weakness, recurrent respiratory and breathing trouble, and a burning sensation in the eyes, were the most common complaints of the people who had been discharged from hospitals. At Hamidia Hospital there was no oxygen because of the rush of patients and people were asked to wash their eyes and return home.

RELIEF WORK INADEQUATE

from Economic Times

13/12/84. This report claims that the state is not able to cope with the problems the gas leak has created. There are complaints about lack of medicine and non-attendance by doctors. The affected people are using various methods to voice their resentment and protesting the non-availability of medical assistance. The reporter goes into the affected neighborhoods where almost everybody is coughing constantly, having pain and irritation in chest and experiencing lack of vision. These people are in no condition to get out of bed and are hardly eating anything. Young men are trying to get the attention of the higher authorities to get necessary and adequate medical help.

1985

DISABLING AND INCURABLE AILMENTS STILL AFFLICT THOUSANDS IN BHOPAL

from the New York Times

29/3/85. The story claims that thousands of people are suffering from incurable problems with breathing, sleeping, digesting food and performing even light physical labor. Problems in counting the injured, confusion, inefficiency and haphazard record-keeping are plaguing the medical relief system. Experts said there was random or casual prescribing of painkillers, sedatives, antacid tablets and many other drugs, some of them potentially harmful. Patients complain that the pills give them no relief and a doctor acknowledged that victims were going from one hospital or clinic to another in a desperate search for cures that did not exist. He said there were no treatments available that would improve their symptoms.

NEUROSIS AFFLICTS BHOPAL GAS VICTIMS

from Indian Express

3/16/85. Every fourth MIC patient is suffering from mental disorder. A survey by a mental health team work confirmed that delayed psychological effects are likely to occur.

POLICE DEMOLISH CLINIC, HAND RECORDS TO CARBIDE

from the Patriot

27/6/85. The police raided the clinic run by People’s Health Centre and handed over all medical records of MIC patients to Union Carbide. The clinic was set up for administering sodium thiosulphate injections to MIC patients. The People Health Centre strongly protested against the demolition of the clinic.

A YEAR LATER, HEALTH OF MANY IN BHOPAL STILL IN QUESTION

from the Observer

1/12/85. Medical studies conducted in the year since the chemical leak at the plant indicate that the chemical responsible for the accident causes serious long-term health problems. Medical experts also say that the clinical evidence compiled show that the deaths and injuries were not solely caused by MIC, instead they assert some MIC had been broken down into hydrogen cyanide before the toxic material escaped from the storage tank.

1986

MEDICAL TREATMENT FOR GAS-HIT WOMEN SOUGHT

from Free Press

6/12/86. At a press conference doctors stressed that timely medical treatment for women, particularly pregnant was essential. They said the gas seemed to have affected women the most. There were complaints of various ailments, including stoppage of child movement in wombs. Apart from still births they had also seen deformed children being born due to the effects of the gas.

LUNG DAMAGE TO GAS VICTIMS LONG-TERM

from Times of India

6/9/86. Studies prove that MIC-induced lung disease has a long-term course. Studies carried out by a team of doctors show that MIC has restricted the functioning of the lungs of the affected persons and caused secondary psychiatric abnormalities.

POINTLESS ARRESTS

from Indian Express

13/9/86. The Madhya Pradesh arrested two voluntary workers, once again demonstrating its complete intolerance towards any legitimate questioning of its relief efforts for the gas-affected victims. The two men were found taking notes and taping a meeting of government doctors which had been announced in the press and thus was not a secret or closed-door meeting.

BERGMAN, 2 OTHERS BEING ‘HARASSED’

from Times of India

17/9/86. This is one of many stories in 1986 about the government’s harassment and persecution against relief workers and volunteers opposed to Union Carbide. It’s about the framing up of three relief workers under the “absurd” charge of violation of Official Secrets Act. One of the accused cycled from England to raise money for the gas victims and decided to stay on to help children. He was now being labeled as a spy. Two others who write for a monthly newspaper “Bhopal” had been accused of “illegally trespassing” and recording the meeting of Indian Council of Medical Research with local doctors to discuss the mode of treatment for the gas victims. Thirty one relief workers from different parts of the country had been charged under various offences.

1987

OXYGEN HUNGER – MAIN CAUSE OF GAS VICTIMS’ TROUBLES

from Dainak Bhaskar

27/4/87. Scientists claim that the damaged lungs of the victims have made them respiratory cripples. Also a study on schoolchildren finds that the gas tragedy has left them suffering with a number of physiological, neurological and psychological problems. The ailments included breathlessness, uneasiness, chest pain, loss of appetite, headache, body ache, loss of muscular coordination, blood pressure, palpitation, confused thinking, loss of ambition, emotional attacks, loss of memory and working capacity, and among girls there was disturbance in the menstrual cycle.

NO SOPS FOR HAPLESS CARBIDE VICTIMS

from Dainik Bhaskar

14/8/87. The report claims that the victims of the gas leak are practically without any assistance from either the Government or Union Carbide. The doctors and lawyers who were once engaged in helping the victims find little time for them now. The Government admits delay in relief work.

PANEL FEARS PRESENCE OF TOXIC SUBSTANCES IN VICTIMS

from the Patriot

28/8/87. The Supreme Court Committee for the Bhopal gas victims apprehends the presence of toxic substances in gas-affected people. There is evidence of MIC entering the blood stream, generating antibodies and disturbing the immune system. Another alarming feature is the Pregnancy Outcome Study which has established that the spontaneous abortion rate has increased four-fold, and that the toxins present in gas-exposed women were causing damage to the fetus.

1988

BHOPAL VICTIMS STILL SUFFERING

from the Hindustan Times

30/11/88. Four years later the effects of MIC are still evident on the victims, with the fact that the death rate was shot up alarmingly. Thousands of people are still seen waiting in queues at the hospitals with symptoms like breathlessness, loss of appetite, persistent cough, pain in abdomen and considerable weaknesses. Also, what was not perceptible at first is the traumatic effect on the minds of the affected people now suffering from mental derangement, anxiety and depression.

GENERAL HEALTH DECLINES

from Madhya Pradesh Chronicle

3/12/88. The general health status of the gas victims has declined further in comparison to the last four years. A doctor claims that the MIC has now “set in” among the victims, causing a continuous deterioration in the health of severely gas hit people.

AFTER THE DISASTER

from Madhya Pradesh Chronicle

3/12/88. A study by ICMR shows that the overall infection rate in the babies who were delivered by the women who were pregnant in the areas which were badly hit due to the gas leak, has increased. A high incidence of fever, cough and cold, loose motions and acute respiratory problems was reported among the children who were born to the gas hit ladies in the post disaster period.

VITAL DRUG BEING DENIED TO BHOPAL GAS VICTIMS

from the Patriot

4/12/88. The one antidote that gave relief to 29,000 severely affected gas victims has not been administered to the rest of the estimated 60,000 acutely affected victims or to the mass of over 5 lakh people affected by the killer gases. Within a few days of the disaster the presence of deadly cyanide was found in blood samples of victims and doctors recommended the use of sodium thiosulphate injections. Most patients felt better, subsequently a Union Carbide specialist sent a fax recommending the use of sodium thiosulphate. But after some months, there were clear instructions from the MP administration directing medical institutions to stop sodium thiosulphate therapy.

RESEARCH ON MIC’S EFFECTS IS CRUCIAL FOR THE VICTIMS

from Times of India

5/12/88. The report stresses that for the thousands who are still suffering from the ill-effects of MIC any research findings that can be beneficial in devising a line of treatment must be the prime concern, as there seems to be overwhelming scientific evidence to suggest the multi-systemic involvement of MIC. They claim Union Carbide has remorselessly tried to underplay the toxic effects of MIC, saying that MIC was merely an eye and throat irritant, when it is now clear that they had access to the most comprehensive inhalation study of MIC to date much before the disaster.

1989

MIC MAY HAVE DAMAGED IMMUNE SYSTEMS

from Statesman

9/9/89. According to an immunologist’s research, some of those who survived the gas leak may have long-term damage to their immune systems, which could cause other health problems for the rest of their lives.

361 ABORTIONS, 22 STILLBORN, CARBIDE’S PARTING GIFT

from Patriot

18/9/89. Official surveys have confirmed that the lethal MIC gas had its most treacherous impact on pregnant mothers and their unborn children. Out of 2,245 women who were within three months of their pregnancy on the night of the gas disaster show that 361 women had abortions, 22 babies were born dead, 84 were premature births and 17 of the babies born alive had congenital defects.

BHOPAL OFFICIALS HINDERING DE-TOXIFYING PLAN

from Times of India

30/9/89. Doctors of a clinic run by voluntary organizations charged state government officials with trying to stop the collection of medical and chemical evidence of cyanide poisoning due to the gas leak. The doctors said in a statement that the officials were obstructing the clinic’s program of detoxifying the gas victims. The doctors appealed to the chief minister to take action against the officials who were not only adding to the suffering of the gas victims but also protecting Union Carbide.

1990

ILLNESS AFFLICTS MIC VICTIMS

from the Hindustan Times

30/1/90. According to a medical study, 70 – 80% of the gas affected population in the seriously affected areas and 40 – 50% in the mildly affected area suffer from medically diagnosed illnesses even five years after the MIC leak.

TOXIC WATER FOUND AROUND UCC PLANT

from Times of India

16/5/90. Several toxic chemicals and cancer-causing agents have been found in the water samples collected from around the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal. This poses a serious risk to the people who continue to suffer and die of diseases related to their exposure to toxic gases that leaked from the plant.

UNENDING HELL FOR BHOPAL VICTIMS

from Patriot

21/11/90. Almost six years after the gas disaster life continues to be an unending purgatory for the victims. According to ICMR the tragedy continues to unfold through growing general morbidity, a rising incidence of lung, eye, gastro-intestinal, skin and neuro-psychological disorders, as well as high rates of involuntary abortions among pregnant women.

HOW KILLER MIC LIVES ON IN BHOPAL

from the Economic Times

25/11/90. Almost six years after the gas disaster survivors are still dying and the number of dead continues to go up. The deaths have been mainly due to respiratory causes. The toxicity of MIC and its long-term effects have largely issued a systemic character with several morbidities coexisting. The story explains how even the “simple injury” cases identified after the disaster are by no means simple any longer.

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