Basic Facts & Figures, Numbers of Dead and Injured, Bhopal Disaster

Population of Bhopal at Time of Disaster:

894, 539 [MP BGRR]

Number of People Who Died in First 3 Days:

  • 1754 (official figures/ Lapierre)
  • 2,500 [official figures/ C. Sathyamala GSP]
  • >3,000 [Jack Doyle GSP]
  • 3,000-6,000 [H. Rajan Sharma GSP)
  • 3,800 [Zavetovski, GSP]
  • 8,000 [SB]
  • 8,000-10,000 [Bhopal Medical Appeal]
  • 7,000-10,000 [AI]

Number of People Who Have Died Subsequently:

  • 15,000 [Figures for 1985-2003, extrapolated from Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) figures by AI]
  • 16,000 [Deaths up to 1998. SB]
  • 20,000 [Over two decades. H. Rajan Sharma]
  • 20,000 [Since 1985. From survivors’ and activists’ organisations/ AI]

Combined Estimates [People Who Died At The Time & Subsequently]:

  • 15,248 [2003 Annual Report/ MP BGRR/ in AI]
  • 16,000-30,000 [Lapierre]
  • >20,000 [AI]
  • 22,917 [BGIA in aplication to support 2010 curative petition ion Supreme Court]
  • 23,000 [Indian Council of Medical Research figures in Sheoin/GSP/ BGIA 2008]
  • >25,000 [Bhopal medical Appeal/ SB]

Number of Affected Survivors (suffering from permanent disabilities or chronic ailments):

  • 4,944 [Curative Petition before Supreme Court, 2010]
  • 25,000 [Indian Council of Medical Research/in Sharma GSP ]
  • 32,000 102,000 [Supreme Court order 1989]
  • >100,000 ‘suffered some injury or impairment from the incident, and as many as 587,000 were somehow adversely affected’. [Jack Doyle/GSP]
  • 120,000 (SB)
  • 95% of the affected population (531,881) are affected by some physical and mental health condition. [ICMR]
  • The number of survivors with exposure induced chronic respiratory disorders alone was 100,000 and “25 to 30 % of the survivors have neurological and mental illnesses as a consequence of the disaster”. The incidence of Lung, Eye, GIT and general morbidities was 4 to 5 times higher than a matched unexposed population. According to the MP Govt’s 2008 Action Plan (GoI approved).

Number of Compensation Claims:

554,895 (Annual Report 2003/MP BGRR in AI)

Claims for varying degrees of injuries (minor and major) or disability. This is the number medically assessed and approved by Oct 2003 [AI]

Futher Reading

The true death toll. Eyewitness testimony of Mohammed Karim


  • ‘Amnesty International has found no evidence of any systematic attempt by the Indian government to keep a record of gas-related deaths in the 20 years since 1984.’ [AI]
  • ‘The exact death toll on the night of the disaster will never be known. Estimates were made from burial grounds, from drivers of the fleet of 16 trucks moving bodies. 10,000 shrouds were made for Hindu victims alone; more than 7,000 were burned on five funeral pyres. Many bodies were simply taken away by army trucks and dumped in mass graves or in the river Narmada.’ [AI] Note: Hindu victims were cremated and required shrouds but Muslim victims were buried not requiring a shroud. Given the demographic make-up of the worst-hit areas, it is reasonable to assume there were more Muslim victims than Hindu. Figures presented in the ICMR’s Technical Report on Population Based Long Term Epidemiological Studies states that the percentage of Muslims in the severely affected areas (the Sambhavna clinic is located in the middle of this area) was 74 % whereas it was 35 % and 40 % in the moderately and mildly affected areas respectively. Although BMA supports a similar position to Amnesty International with a figure for deaths, from the first three days of the disaster, of between 8- 10,000 people, it is very possible to arrive at a much higher figure when extrapolating from the number of funeral shrouds required for Hindus and adding a greater number of Musxlim burials then including a further estimated number for unaccounted deaths- not least those where whole families were wiped out. On the ground in Bhopal some witnesses refer, anecdotally, to figures of 25- 30,000 deaths in the immediate aftermath.
  • Also not accounted were deaths among the hundreds of thousands of people who fled from Bhopal that night.
  • Some 15,000 death claims were filed of which the government accepted just over 5,000. In many cases, whole families were wiped out, leaving no-one left to claim.


  • GSP: ‘Global Social Policy’ journal (Vol 9/No.3/Dec 2009)
  • SB:  ‘The Bhopal Gas Tragedy 1984- ?’ (Sambhavna Clinic Report. 1998)
  • AI:  Amnesty International, ‘Clouds of Injustice: Bhopal Disaster 20 Years On’ (Amnesty International. 2004)
  • Lapierre: ‘Five Past Midnight’ by Dominique Lapierre & Javier Moro [Scribner 2003]
  • MP BGRR: Madhya Pradesh Bhopal Gas Relief and Rehabilitation Department.
  • ICMR: Indian Council of Medical Research
  • Rajan Sharma: Counsel for Plaintiffs, Bano, Sahu II & Sahu II class actions against Union Carbide.
  • BGIA: Bhopal Group for Information and Action
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