London, Mar. 3 (ANI): Hundreds of Australian aborigines and former servicemen are set to sue the British Ministry of Defence for compensation over a nuclear test at Maralinga that caused diseases and disabilities over 50 years ago.
A group of 250 people, including 150 former servicemen, say they have suffered cancer, skin disease and deformities because of the fallout from blasts.
If they win, the British Government could be faced with a bill for compensation which will run to millions of pounds, according to lawyers for the group.
Lawyers claim that while the British had warned some white farmers that the tests were taking place, the indigenous community was largely ignored.
"The British assumed there was no one living there. But [local aborigines] lived off the land, ate the local plants and wildlife and were profoundly affected," The Telegraph quoted Anna Mazzola from London firm Hickman and Rose, as saying.
"We are dealing with generations of people who have been affected by radiation from the fallout and who have never had that acknowledged. The medical science now exists in order to prove these injuries are linked to the tests," she added.
Maureen Williams was a baby living in the remote town of Coober Pedy when the second nuclear test took place in 1953.
Her family saw the "thick, black and red" mushroom cloud in the distance, but did not understand what it meant. It went right through our camp. Straight away people started getting sick," she said.
Among the Australians seeking compensation are up to 8,000 Australian soldiers, who were sent to Maralinga, in the remote west of South Australia, and Emu Field, also in the South Australian desert, for the testing.
Often equipped with just a hat, shorts and boots, they were told to simply turn their back when the bombs were detonated. (ANI)