Monday, January 5, 2009
Photographs that changed the world/The burial of a unknown child by Raghu Rai
The Bhopal disaster has no parallel in the history of mankind. It all began on the night of December 2/3, 1984, when 40 tons of lethal gases leaked from Union Carbide Corporation's pesticide factory in Bhopal, India. People just did not know what had hit them. Many fell dead as they ran. Others succumbed at the hospitals where doctors were overwhelmed by the numbers and lacked information on the nature of the poisoning. By the third day of the disaster, an estimated 8,000 people had died from direct exposure to the gases and another 500,000 were injured. Today, the number of deaths stands at 20,000. Years after the event, Bhopal remains the worst industrial disaster in human history.
Despite the fact that there was a high possibility of chemical contamination, there were many reporters at Bhopal, Raghu Rai being one. In 2002, he returned to Bhopal to capture the continuing effects of a tragedy that occurred almost twenty years ago, thereby creating greater awareness about it.
Raghu Rai, awarded India's highest civilian award in 1971, is possibly India's biggest photographer. Raghu Rai for most, was with the Press having worked with the Stateman, the Sunday and the India Today untill 1991. Now, a Magnum photographer, his photos now appear in leading magazines across the world Time, Life, GEO, The New York Times, Sunday Times, Newsweek, Vogue, GQ, D Magazine, Marie Claire, The Independent and The New Yorker. Check his Magnum photos page