Eight people convicted over Bhopal disaster

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A court has found the Indian unit of US chemicals firm Union Carbide and seven Indian former employees guilty of negligence over one of the world's worst industrial accidents that killed thousands in 1984.

Toxic gases were accidentally released into the air above the central city of Bhopal from the Union Carbide plant. The government says some 3,500 people died as a result of the leak. But activists claim 25,000 died in the immediate aftermath and the years that followed.

The eight convictions are the first in 25 years and could lead to jail terms of up to two years and fines, though rights activists say that punishment would be too light.

The chairman of India's top utility vehicle and tractor producer Mahindra & Mahindra, Keshub Mahindra, is the highest ranking person to be convicted. At the time of the disaster he was chairman of Union Carbide India Ltd - a unit of Union Carbide.

Union Carbide's Indian arm was also found guilty. The convicted people may appeal in a process that can take years.

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