Twisted legs. Mute tongues. A protruding red mass of flesh for an eye.
These are a handful of the horrific deformities children now live with because of the world's worst-ever industrial disaster: the Union Carbide gas leak in the city of Bhopal, India.
Between 10,000 and 25,000 people died when the gas - primarily consisting of a fatal compound called methyl isocyanate - leaked from a poorly-maintained facility. So many died that the city ran out of wood for individual funeral pyres, instead resorting to mass cremations.
Still, the tragedy is not over. Soil and water polluted with a range of toxic chemicals, including mercury and arsenic, continue to sicken and kill residents. Each day in Bhopal, one person dies because they've been poisoned by the plant.
Stanford University held the Students for Bhopal's seventh annual conference from Oct. 14-16 to continue the conversation surrounding the disaster and advocate for justice. Students and activists from all over the country arrived for the educational event, and a highlight was the screening of a 2010 documentary called Bhopali, a title which means "one who is from Bhopal."
Despite the fact that most of the audience had seen the movie many times before, more than one viewer had to leave the room because they were so overwhelmed with emotion.
Union Carbide produced chemicals en masse mostly for pesticide use in Bhopal, and was run by CEO Warren Anderson. According to the documentary, Anderson and other top officials in the company were aware of safety hazards at the plant, and had even cut back on key safety measures to save nominal sums of money - the equivalent of $70 a day.
Anderson has an outstanding warrant with the Indian government for this reason, but failed to appear in court. The U.S. has not extradited him, and according to reports, Anderson lives a luxurious life in the Hamptons with multiple homes in other parts of the country. Dow Chemical, the world's second-largest chemical manufacturer, bought Union Carbide after the disaster.
Almost 27 years have passed since the tragedy, yet as the film explains, a deadlock between of the Indian and U.S. governments and Dow has left the area as polluted as ever before. The situation is grim: local Indian government officials deny any pollution despite a wealth of evidence to the contrary, the U.S. government has refused to enforce international clean-up laws, and Dow argues that if the Indian government sees nothing wrong, they have no reason to take action.
Meanwhile, residents of Bhopal - many of whom are already living in abject poverty - continue to drink polluted water because they have no other choice. In the film, many Bhopali people call the city "hell on earth."
The film was produced by Kirk Palayan, who held a Q&A after the event. Palayan and director Van Maximilian Carlson managed to bypass traditional film visas in order to finish the movie as quickly as possible, and shot the film single-handedly in two trips to the city.
Palayan said the film was "more important and emotional than anything we'd ever done before."
The producer was impressed that most of the people they met were friendly and open to the duo, despite the fact that they were American.
"If I were in their shoes, I'd probably be throwing rocks at people like me," he said.
The film has won several awards, including the 2011 Slamdance Film Festival. It has also been entered to be considered for the Best Documentary Feature category nomination for the 2012 Academy Awards.
Visit www.bhopal.org for a full history and how you can help the victims.