INTAKI PRIME – The Intaki Assembly voted today to declare a day of mourning throughout Intaki Space in recognition of the 350 lives lost in an explosion yesterday at the Gridharan Medical Research on the Ud’Har colony.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those grieving the loss of their loved ones,” said Anlaa Banerjee, Assembly spokesman. “May their next lives be blessed.”

The vote was not without controversy, however, as delegates from both Duureanta and Kapda took to the floor during the bill’s debate period.

Gagan Hiranandani, of Kapda, did not oppose the bill to set aside a day for mourning, but used his allotted time to remind the Assembly that the GMR facility in question was researching a virus that has apparently killed several hundred villagers in a remote area of his colony’s southern jungle.

“While the villagers of the Kapdan jungles might not be as prominent as the corporate presence of Gridhara Inc. or its parent corporation, their lives are as equal as any other member of our society,” he said.

Francois Chaudhari, of Duureanta, objected to the bill, calling the measure a “distraction” from what should be an investigation into the safety protocols at the facility and others like it.

“The Ud’Har research facilities are a source of pride for the Intaki people, but they deal with a variety of dangerous and deadly materials,” he said. “If safety procedures are growing lax, we must endeavor to bolster them before a tragedy of more epic proportions befalls us.”

On the Ud’Har colony, residents in the city of Shikar have been evacuated and a 30 mile quarantine zone has been established. The explosion yesterday marked the second incident at the GMR facility in a week.

Three days ago, a number of employees were struck ill when the viral agent described by Hiranandani escaped preliminary confinement. GMR officials say yesterday’s incident was unrelated and was triggered when a faulty valve on a chlorine storage tank failed. The leaking chlorine gas ignited, creating a chain reaction explosion that completely destroyed the facility.

Harsharani Sadayappan, director of Ud’Har’s environmental protection division, said it was unlikely that any of the pathogens contained in the GMR facility’s laboratories could have survived either the exposure to chlorine gas or the resultant fire, but the quarantine zone was instated as a precaution.

“This is a disaster, there’s no doubt about that,” she said. “But we are hopeful that at this point the issue is a localized one.”