Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 August 2019

Suspicious packages sent to consulates in Australia

Police are investigating packages sent to multiple diplomatic missions across Melbourne and Canberra

Victoria Police forensic officers remove a bag from the Italian consulate in Melbourne on Wednesday. AFP
Victoria Police forensic officers remove a bag from the Italian consulate in Melbourne on Wednesday. AFP

Police in Australia are investigating suspicious packages sent to foreign consulates and embassies across Melbourne and the capital Canberra.

There were no reports of harm to staff members but Australian media said that more than a dozen foreign missions received the packages. Some staff members said they had contained asbestos, the material used in construction and a known carcinogen.

No one has claimed responsibility for the packages and there was no indication of a motive.

"The packages are being examined by attending emergency services. The circumstances are being investigated," the Australian Federal Police said.

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Officials at the US and British consulates in Melbourne confirmed suspicious packages had been received.

"We handled the package according to our standard procedures and in close coordination with local authorities ... who are investigating the incident," a spokesman for the US consulate said.

A New Zealand official told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the consulate received an envelope with small plastic bags that appeared to contain concrete and asbestos, with "asbestos" written on one of the bags.

The Age newspaper reported that one firefighter was seen outside the South Korean consulate carrying a large plastic bag with the word "asbestos" written on it.

Other consulates in Melbourne reported to have received packages include Egypt, Greece, Italy, Spain, Thailand, India, Japan, Pakistan, Denmark and Switzerland.

Updated: January 9, 2019 01:19 PM

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