The Bhopal Marathon: Walking on Bodies

1984 Union Carbide gas tragedy killed 10,00 instantly and 20,000 more have died sinceWalking on Bodies

At Rani Kamla Pati ka Mahal, the road was so thick with dead bodies that we were forced to step on them. The park between the upper and lower lakes was full of bodies lying on the ground. People from nearby areas were bringing out their quilts and bedcovers and covering people to protect them from the gas cloud.

We collapsed onto a pile of dried leaves near a garbage dump and fell unconscious. I recall that men came and lifted me and my children. They carried us to a better place and wrapped me up in a quilt.

We lay there for a long time, then heard this loud announcement from a public address system on a jeep. ‘We are in control of the gas leak from Union Carbide. Go back to your houses.’ By then it was dawn. One man about 35 years old took us to his home. Our eyes were closed and swollen. We were still feeling as if someone was trying to strangle us, breathing was extremely difficult.

This man gave me clothes to wear and hot water to wash myself. He made us tea but we couldn’t drink – our throats were on fire. Soon it was light, but we were helpless because we could not see. The man and his son gave us a bottle of drinking water and led us back to our house.

When we got home we saw that the trees had shed their leaves, which looked as if they had been burnt. Milk had turned light green and we threw it away. All food left in the house was also thrown away.

So the night of terror ended, but as the sun rose over Bhopal, none of us knew nor could ever have guessed what lay ahead. It never occurred to us that we would get no help, not from Union Carbide nor elsewhere, that the company would not be punished and we would be left to live or die. ‘That night’ was over, but the years of death and suffering had just begun.

You can read the complete Bhopal Marathon publication online here

Girl with candle Bhopal

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