Suspicious packages sent to consulates in Melbourne

The'hazardous material warnings as mapped on the Victoria Emergency website. Image Victoria Emergency

There was no obvious pattern to countries targeted, with consulates of Pakistan, the United States, China, Italy, India, Japan and New Zealand suffering scares.

The city's Metropolitan Fire Brigade sent units to "a number of incidents" of "hazardous material". "The circumstances are being investigated", the official statement reads.

"The packages are being examined by attending emergency services", the Australian Federal Police said in a statement.

Suspicious packages have sparked a major emergency response and evacuation of some foreign consulates across Melbourne, with embassies in Canberra also hit.

It is not yet known which embassies in Canberra have been affected.

Victoria Police said they are aware of the suspicious packages, but do not believe the public should be concerned.

The US consulate in the city said it had also received a "suspicious" package, which a spokesperson said was handled in coordination with police and the fire service.

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.




The Victorian Emergency website lists more than 10 "hazardous material" events occurring across Melbourne, which began unfolding from about 1.00pm.

It is understood at least seven Melbourne buildings have been evacuated.

A spokesman for the USA consulate in Melbourne told CNN that after receiving a suspicious package staff "followed standard procedures and alerted local authorities".

Police did not identify any of the embassies or consulates involved.

The powder, contained in clear plastic bags within an envelope, was subsequently deemed not unsafe.

"All our staff are safe and accounted for", she said.

Firefighters wearing Hazmat suits entered the South Korean and Indian consulates on St Kilda Road in Melbourne shortly after 2pm (local time). The husband of the Swiss honorary consul in Melbourne told the Australia Post a similar story.

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