Consulates in Australia evacuated over suspicious packages

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

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

Firefighters and federal police are reportedly in attendance at some embassies including the New Zealand and Korean embassies.

A number of embassies in the Australian capital Canberra also received suspicious packages, police said, although it has not been confirmed which embassies were affected.

Victoria Police said they believed the consulates were specifically "targeted" and the situation was "not impacting the general community".

Victoria State Emergency Services began reporting hazardous-materials alerts along major streets that are home to numerous foreign consulates in Melbourne, the country's second-largest city, beginning early Wednesday afternoon (Tuesday night ET).

A spokeswoman for the British High Commission confirmed its office in Melbourne had received a suspicious package.

Ambulance Victoria said they attended a number of consulates around Melbourne on Wednesday, but no one was taken to hospital. "It was in an envelope", she said.

"The circumstances are being investigated", said the Australian Federal Police.

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Emergency services raced to a string of diplomatic facilities which had received packages containing suspected hazardous material, all within the space of a few hours.

The incident came on the heels of a similar suspicious package delivery to the Argentinian consulate in Sydney on Monday, which was later found not to contain harmful material.

A spokesman for DFAT told AAP it had sent an email to all Canberra-based diplomatic missions on Tuesday and then to other consulates across Australia, "alerting them to the possibility of suspicious packages being delivered by mail".

"There are 22 we know of at least in Melbourne and Canberra", Candice said. It is understood the envelope, which looked like a normal letter, was addressed to the Consulate-General of Pakistan, Australian newspaper The Age reported.

Emergency workers wearing chemical suits were seen entering some of the buildings.

Firefighters and paramedics were both seen at the USA and Indian missions in the city, Australia's second largest. However, the substance, which was powder in clear plastic bags in an envelope, was subsequently deemed not risky.

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