Deadly nerve gas sarin scare shuts Facebook headquarters

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San Francisco, July 2 (IANS) To the horror of thousands of Facebook employees at it Menlo Park, California headquarters, emergency teams evacuated at least four buildings after a packet with possible sarin (a potentially deadly nerve agent) was detected at the social networking giant’s mailing facility.

According to www.nbcbayarea.com, a machine at the company’s mailing facility alerted employees that a package may contain sarin. Later, tests proved it was a false alarm.

Fire officials initially reported that at least two Facebook employees may have been possibly exposed to the packet in question.

“We evacuated four buildings and are conducting a thorough investigation in coordination with local authorities,” Anthony Harrison, a Facebook spokesperson told The Verge late Monday.

“As of now, three buildings have been cleared for repopulation. The safety of our employees is our top priority and we will share additional information when it is available,” he was quoted as saying.

The package was delivered to Facebook and the company began evacuating some of the Menlo Park campus buildings.

Emergency hazmat crews immediately took over the place, asking employees to leave the offices.

Initially, four buildings were evacuated and then three of them were deemed safe for repopulation.

“Authorities have confirmed test results were negative for any potentially dangerous substance and the buildings have been cleared for repopulation. Our rigorous security and safety procedures worked as intended to limit exposure and keep our people safe,” Facebook said.

Originally developed in 1938 in Germany as a pesticide, sarin is defined as a “human-made chemical warfare agent classified as a nerve agent.”

A colourless, odourless liquid, it is used as a chemical weapon due to its extreme potency as a nerve agent.

Exposure is lethal even at very low concentrations, where death can occur within one to 10 minutes after direct inhalation of a lethal dose, owing to suffocation from lung muscle paralysis, unless antidotes are quickly administered.

Sarin is generally considered a weapon of mass destruction. Production and stockpiling of sarin was outlawed as of April 1997 by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, and it is classified as a Schedule 1 substance.

–IANS

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