Published: Wed, January 09, 2019
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Suspicious packages sent to embassies and consulates in Melbourne and Canberra

Suspicious packages sent to embassies and consulates in Melbourne and Canberra

The packages are reported to have been marked as containing asbestos.

Photos put up by a journalist on Twitter showed Indian consulate staff sitting on a sidewalk outside their office while emergency service vehicles stood nearby.

Two days before, a suspicious package containing white powder was found at the Argentine consulate in Sydney.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed that the New Zealand Consulate General in Melbourne received a suspicious package this afternoon.

"The circumstances surrounding these incidents are being investigated", the Australian Federal Police said in a statement.

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

At least seven of the affected Melbourne consulates have been evacuated.

Victoria Police said at this time, they believe the matter is "targeted and not impacting the general community".

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Suspicious packages discovered Wednesday forced evacuations at several foreign consulates, including that of the United States, in the Australian cities of Melbourne and Canberra, prompting a police investigation, officials said.

A spokeswoman for the service said: "We are assisting the Australian Federal Police right now with a number of incidents across Melbourne".

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

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

The US consulate in the city said it also received a "suspicious" package, which a spokesperson said was handled in coordination with the Melbourne Fire Brigade and the Australian Federal Police, who were "investigating the incident".

However the U.S. embassy in Canberra was not targeted with a package, a spokesperson said.

The NZ consulate was one of at least seven global consulates evacuated after multiple suspicious packages were found, in what officials labelled a "hazardous material" event.

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

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