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March 2019 - 10:58 pm IST

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Suspicious packages with white powder found at India's consulate and other missions in Australia

Suspicious packages with white powder found at India's consulate and other missions in Australia

Published:09 January 2019

Suspicious packages containing white powder, some reportedly marked with the word "asbestos" were sent to the Indian consulate and several other diplomatic missions here on Wednesday, prompting Australian authorities to evacuate the facilities and launch an investigation.

Melbourne | Suspicious packages containing white powder, some reportedly marked with the word "asbestos" were sent to the Indian consulate and several other diplomatic missions here on Wednesday, prompting Australian authorities to evacuate the facilities and launch an investigation.
Australian Federal Police said a number of packages sent to at least 10 consulates and embassies in Melbourne and Canberra were being examined by emergency services and the circumstances around the incidents were under investigation.
Victoria Police said they believed the consulates were specifically "targeted" and the situation was "not impacting the general community".
The incident comes just two days after a suspicious white powder was found at the Argentinian Consulate in Sydney.
Emergency services were first alerted to the packages at the US Consulate and Indian consulate about 12.30 pm.
Firefighters and Ambulance Victoria paramedics were attending the Indian Consulate and US Consulate on St Kilda Road.
An Indian Consulate official said all was fine at the building.
"Police and emergency services have responded to suspicious packages to embassies and consulates... The packages are being examined by attending emergency services. The circumstances are being investigated," the Australian Federal Police tweeted.
There are reports the packages contain white powder laced with asbestos, and that warnings were e-mailed to staffers at the consulates prior to the delivery telling them to "wear masks" when opening the packages, 9News reported.
The Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) said it was assisting the Australian Federal Police at a number of incidents at embassies across Melbourne.
"At this time we believe the matter is targeted and not impacting the general community," the MFB statement said.
"We isolated the area then identified where the actual substance was, collected it and made it safe," 9News quoted Bryan Kellett from the MFB as saying from outside the Indian consulate.
A worker at the Pakistani consulate in Melbourne opened one of the packages about 10am on Wednesday, The Age newspaper reported.
It is understood the envelope, which looked like a normal letter, was addressed to the Consulate-General of Pakistan.
Initial suspicions were raised by a spelling mistake on the envelope, with "consulate" misspelled.
Inside, the worker discovered a small item that looked like a marble tile, and three packages of tightly packed powder, The Age report said.
The staff member did not touch the contents of the package.
Emergency workers wearing chemical suits were seen entering some of the buildings. There was no reports of any one injured so far.
Ambulance Victoria confirmed a number of patients were examined at multiple consulates.
"No patients have required treatment or transport to hospital," it said in a statement.
The United Kingdom consulate, located on Collins Street, along with the Korean consulate (St Kilda Road), German consulate (Queen Street), Italian consulate (St Kilda Road), Swiss consulate (Ashwood), Pakistan consulate (Cardigan Place), Greek consulate (Albert Road) and the Indonesian consulate (Queens Road) are also believed to have been affected.
More than a dozen hazardous material alerts have been issued on the VicEmergency website.


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