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Tuesday, November 16, 1999 Published at 18:21 GMT

World: South Asia

Bhopal victims file fresh charges

The gas leak at Bhopal killed thousands

By Mahesh Pandey in Bhopal

Survivors of one of the worst industrial accidents in India have filed fresh charges in New York against the Union Carbide Corporation.

The accident occurred in the central Indian city of Bhopal 14 years ago when lethal smoke from Union Carbide's plant leaked out, killing thousands.

Five organisations working closely with the survivors of the accident, filed the latest case on Monday night (New York time) in a federal court.

The organisations charge that the Union Carbide company and its former chairman, Warren Anderson, are guilty of violating international law and escaping criminal proceedings in India.

In a statement issued in the central Indian city of Bhopal, the convenor of one of the organisations, Abdul Jabbar, said an arrest warrant for Mr Anderson is still pending in the Indian courts.

He said none of the corporation's representatives has appeared in court in the last seven years - despite criminal charges against them.

Mr Jabbar said it amounted to an act of civil contempt.

The suit also makes allegations of continuing environmental damage caused by the Union Carbide.

It states that its plants, despite being sealed for years, have contaminated ground water and land in the vicinity of the factory.

Observers say this new case is likely to have an effect on the proposed merger of Union Carbide with another American multinational company, Dow Chemicals.

In 1989, the Supreme Court of India ordered Union Carbide to pay $470m in damages, after which criminal charges were brought against the corporation.

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