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Facebook evacuates four buildings at Menlo Park headquarters after possible sarin exposure

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Facebook evacuates four buildings at Menlo Park headquarters after possible sarin exposure

A Facebook spokesperson later confirmed that three of the four buildings evacuated had been cleared for repopulation.

Facebook evacuated four buildings at its Menlo Park headquarters in California on Monday after machines at the company's mailing facility detected the presence of sarin. While the mailbag, which was tested positive for the deadly nerve agent, has been placed under quarantine, Facebook employees who might have been exposed to the substance are being monitored closely.

"The (Facebook) facility tests all of the packages that come in and they had a positive test, so they just initiated their standard protocol. Now we're just waiting to verify whether that's true or not," Fire chief marshal for Menlo Park, California, Jon Johnston said in a statement to Reuters adding that the people who came in contact with the suspicious mailbag at about 11AM PDT were not showing any signs of exposure to sarin.

For reference, sarin is a chemical warfare agent which can causes loss of consciousness, convulsions, paralysis, respiratory failure and in extreme cases even death, according to CDC.

Responding to the queries, Facebook spokesperson Anthony Harrison told the media that the authorities had not yet identified the substance found in the mailbag. However, the social media giant was cooperating with the authorities - Menlo Park police and agents from the San Francisco office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) - in investigating the matter. He also said that three of the four buildings that had been evacuated following the initial threat had been cleared for repopulation.

Notably, this is not the first time that Facebook's Menlo Park headquarters has been evacuated following a threat. Back in December last year, some buildings at the Facebook headquarters - including the one that houses employees from both Facebook and Instagram -- were evacuated following a bomb threat.

The Menlo Park police in a tweet at the time said that bomb threat had been detected at the 200 Jefferson Drive. Later the police confirmed that the San Mateo County bomb unit had conducted a full sweep of the building, however, it had found no suspicious device or package at the location. The police later confirmed that the bomb threat had been resolved and that everyone was safe.