The statistics are still shocking, 25 years on from the world's worst ever industrial accident – the gas leak at a Union Carbide factory in Bhopal, India. According to Mick Brown's detailed and moving account in the Telegraph Magazine 'exact numbers are unknown, but most estimates agree that about 8,000 people died from poisoning within 72 hours of the gas leaking into the air. An Amnesty International report published in 2004 concluded that a further 15,000 people had died in the years afterwards as a direct result of long-term gas-related effects, and that 10,000 people continued to suffer from chronic… illnesses.'
Compare this with the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, 'estimated to have caused 57 direct deaths, with some 4,000 additional deaths from cancer among the… most highly exposed people.'
Bhopal (1984), Chernobyl (1986), Zeebrugge / Townsend Thoresen (1987), Lockerbie / Pan Am (1988), Kegworth / British Midland (1989) – note how many of the disaster scenarios remembered (and used as case studies) today date back to the 1980s. They're highly memorable to those of my generation – but I have to keep reminding myself that most current students weren't yet born then.