Published: Thu, January 10, 2019
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Suspicious packages sent to embassies in Australia

Suspicious packages sent to embassies in Australia

Australian Federal Police said the packages were being "examined" by emergency services and the circumstances around the incidents are under investigation.

State police in Melbourne said the incidents there were believed to be "targeted and not impacting the general community".

The Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) said it was assisting the Australian Federal Police at embassies across Melbourne.

Staff were initially evacuated from some of the affected buildings, which were placed on temporary lock down, but were allowed to return later on Wednesday afternoon.

There are reports the packages contain white powder laced with asbestos, and that warnings were emailed to staffers at the consulates prior to the delivery telling them to "wear masks" when opening the packages, 9News reported. The husband of the Swiss honorary consul in Melbourne told the Australia Post a similar story.

The US consulate in Melbourne had notified authorities about a suspicious package, a spokesman told Reuters.

A number of embassies in the Australian capital Canberra also received suspicious packages, police said, although it has not been confirmed which embassies were affected.

It was immediately unclear if a package was found at the Indian consulate in Melbourne too.

"All our staff are safe and accounted for", said a British High Commission spokesperson.

Pictures posted on social media showed cordons outside the Indian and South Korean consulates, both on St Kilda Road in the south of the city.

The incidents come after Sydney's Argentinian consulate was partially evacuated on Monday after reports of a suspicious substance.

The agency's website listed more than 10 "hazardous material" events occurring across Melbourne, which began unfolding from about 1pm.

"It's believed to be non-hazardous, however, they're treating it as a hazardous", she said.

Sky reported that the scare coincided with the USA embassy's hazmat training, which had been booked for months.

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