Aussie Consulates Rattled by Wave of Suspicious Packages

US mission in Melbourne among those affected
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 9, 2019 12:11 AM CST
Suspicious Packages Force Evacuation of Australia Consulates
A fire fighter is seen carrying a hazardous material bag into the South Korean consulate in Melbourne, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019.   (James Ross/AAP Image via AP)

Several foreign diplomatic missions were evacuated in the Australian cities of Melbourne and Canberra on Wednesday after they received packages containing suspicious substances. Police, fire crews, and ambulances were seen at a number of foreign consulates in Melbourne, including those of India, Germany, Italy, Spain, and South Korea, the AP reports. Officials at the US and Swiss missions in the city said they had also received packages. The government Vic Emergency website noted at least 10 "hazardous material" incidents in Melbourne. There were no reports of anyone being injured at the targeted missions in both cities. It was not clear which diplomatic missions in the national capital, Canberra, were affected.

"The circumstances surrounding these incidents are being investigated," the Australian Federal Police said in a statement. The Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported that a worker from the New Zealand consulate in Melbourne had said the packages in question were envelopes labeled "asbestos." Inside were plastic sandwich bags containing a fibrous material. The ABC reported suspicious packages were also found at the Melbourne diplomatic offices of Pakistan and possibly those of Greece, France, and Hong Kong. The incidents come after Sydney's Argentine consulate was partially evacuated on Monday after reports of a suspicious substance. The powder, contained in clear plastic bags within an envelope, was subsequently deemed not dangerous.

(More Australia stories.)

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