||[Jun. 16th, 2008|05:29 pm]
In local news today, as cleanup from last week's crisis continues, another case of desperation and sadness has reached our ears here at Aggie Press. As rescuers continued to investigate parts of the flame scorched UC Davis campus, a small tragedy occurred when a room in the heavily damaged Chemistry Annex, apparently filled with cyanide gas, was breached, killing several over-enthusiastic volunteers. Investigators have since determined that the room's ventilation was sealed during the building's partial collapse. While volunteers had been instructed to follow strict safety protocols, particularly when investigating sites with hazardous materials, it seems the volunteers in question were simply poking around with shovels and work gloves. There names were not available at the time of printing.
It was not immediately clear what had caused the build up of the deadly gas, though Andrew Schultz, one of the leaders of the rescue operation on campus, has his own theory. "It's still hard to tell exactly what happened," says Schultz, "but based on the number of de-animated dead we found inside, I'm guessing that some industrious chemist, perhaps a professor, perhaps a student, tried something unorthodox as a means of escape or simple retaliation."
The Annex suffered heavy damage when a fire that started in the Chemistry building spread along the connecting corridors and damaged the upper stories, collapsing them onto the lower floors. None of the bodies inside the partially collapsed Annex have been seen to be in possession of any kind of filtration mask, suggesting that this may have indeed been a last ditch effort of someone who had run out of options. A broken bottle of hydrochloric acid was found in the rubble nearby, which when tested by experts, was determined to be the likely source of the cyanide gas. UC Davis Chemistry Professor Matt Kirth explained one likely process when we caught up to him digging through the remains of his office.
"It's pretty simple really. A little potassium cyanide, a bit of acid and presto, hydrogen cyanide gas. Nasty stuff, but pretty quick as far as I understand. Not pleasant, I imagine, but quick. Of course, those were all chem labs, so who knows what they used. There are tons of ways they could make that kind of stuff."
As rescuers continue to search for survivors in several collapsed buildings across campus there is still not good explanation for the rise of the "zombies" or their sudden disappearance early Saturday morning. Survivors have faced the grim task of rebuilding amidst tragedy and horror, and this latest incident stands as a stark reminder that not all the danger has passed. Still, volunteers' relentless quest for survivors stands as a shining example of how we can pull together and weather this crisis. Please remember to be vigilant and follow safety procedures.
I crashed hard on Friday night and didn't have the energy to really put up much of a story during the day. I hope you all enjoyed my much briefer story in comparison to last year's. Can't be the hero every year, right? After I got bit, I guess there wasn't much hope for me. At least I took a bunch of teh bastards with me. Who knew that HCN would take them out too?