Suspicious packages at India consulate in Australia

Police, fire crews and ambulances were seen at several diplomatic offices in Melbourne

By AP and PTI in Sydney
  • Published 9.01.19, 11:49 AM
  • Updated 9.01.19, 4:29 PM
  • a min read
Firefighters seen outside the Indian and French consulates in Melbourne on Wednesday. AP

Several foreign consulates were evacuated in the Australian cities of Melbourne and Canberra on Wednesday after they received suspicious packages.

Police, fire crews and ambulances were seen at a number of diplomatic offices in Melbourne, including those of India, Germany, Italy, Spain and South Korea. The government Vic Emergency website noted at least 10 "hazardous material" incidents in the city.

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

Emergency services were first alerted to the packages at the US Consulate and Indian consulate around 12.30 pm.

The United Kingdom consulate, along with the Korean consulate, German consulate, Italian consulate, Swiss consulate, Pakistan consulate, Greek consulate and the Indonesian consulate 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 anyone injured so far.

"No patients have required treatment or transport to hospital," Ambulance Victoria said in a statement.

It was not immediately known which countries' diplomatic missions in the national capital, Canberra, were affected.

The ABC reported one New Zealand consulate worker had said the packages in question were envelopes labelled "asbestos." Inside were plastic sandwich bags containing a fibrous material.

Two firetrucks, a hazardous materials vehicle and police cars were seen at India's consulate in Melbourne, where staff members had been evacuated, some wearing protective masks.

Staff were later allowed to re-enter the building, which was deemed safe by Vic Emergency, the collective body of emergency agencies in Victoria state, of which Melbourne is the capital.

The incidents come after Sydney's Argentinian 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.