MELBOURNE, Jan 9 (PTI): Suspicious packages 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.
A major operation is underway after packages were delivered to at least 10 international consulates across Melbourne.
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.
“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,” Australian Federal Police tweeted.
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 Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) said it was assisting the Australian Federal Police at a number of incidents at embassies across Melbourne.
Victoria police issued a statement saying it was aware of “a number of consulate offices in Melbourne today receiving suspicious packages”.
“At this time we believe the matter is targeted and not impacting the general community,” the 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.
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.
An Indian Consulate official said all was fine at the building.
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.
More than a dozen hazardous material alerts have been issued on the VicEmergency website.
The developing situation comes just two days after a “suspicious” white powder was found at the Argentinian Consulate in Sydney.