Foreign consulates evacuated; suspicious packages at embassies

Melbourne police say they are dealing with suspicious packages

Police and emergency services have responded to suspicious packages delivered to embassies in Melbourne today (Wednesday, 9 January 2019).

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.

"The circumstances surrounding the incidents are being investigated", the statement added.

Australian media reported earlier that packages were sent to at least nine global missions in Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city, including the British, German, Swiss and Indian embassies.

A spokeswoman said: "As this matter is subject to further inquiries, it is not appropriate to provide further information that may impact on the investigation".

Emergency workers had been seen at consulates belonging to the US, India, Pakistan, Greece, South Korea, New Zealand, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and France according to Australian broadcaster ABC News.

Firefighters and Ambulance Victoria paramedics were attending the Indian Consulate and US Consulate on St Kilda Road.

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

The police said there were ten "hazardous material" responses taking place throughout the city.

The incidents come after Sydney's Argentinian consulate was partially evacuated on Monday after reports of a suspicious substance. It is unclear what embassies in Canberra were affected.

On the Emergency Victoria website, there have been more than 13 "hazardous material" alerts listed since 2pm.

Addresses for the events include Market Street, Bourke Street, Middleton Lane, William Street, and St Kilda Road in Melbourne, Elgin Street at Carlton, and Yertchuk Avenue at Ashwood.

The official said she was told by the authorities to wash her hands.

Some of the packages were reported to contain what appeared to be concrete, and were labelled asbestos.

A spokesman for the US Consulate in Melbourne also confirmed they had received a package which local authorities are investigating.

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

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