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Five Past Midnight in Bhopal

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 07 September 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:552
  1. Birte Twisselmann (
  1. BMJ

    Dominique Lapierre, Javier Moro

    Scribner, £17.99, pp 352

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    ISBN 0 743 22034 X

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    This account of one of the worst public health disasters of the past 20 years makes for uncomfortable, even scary, reading, but it is simultaneously unputdownable. Journalist Dominique Lapierre and scriptwriter Javier Moro spent three years in Bhopal in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh in the late 1990s, where in 1984 a cloud of toxic gas had escaped from a pesticide plant owned by US firm Union Carbide, killing and injuring thousands. In an investigative tour de force, Lapierre and Moro interviewed witnesses and participants from India and the United States and spliced together the causes and aftereffects of the catastrophic poison cloud. The result reads like a thriller, albeit one whose terrifying outcome is known from the outset. Sometimes the story is incredible enough to seem entirely fictional—it seems impossible that negligence and …

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