Australia: Numerous suspicious packages found at consulates

Police in Australia said on Wednesday they are investigating several suspicious packages sent to embassies and consulates, which media reports and other officials said included the US and British missions, in the cities of Melbourne and Canberra.

"Victoria Police is aware of a number of consulate offices in Melbourne today receiving suspicious packages", Victoria Police wrote to Twitter.

Emergency services attended consulates across Melbourne's central busy district and the inner city.

A major security operation in Melbourne, Australia is underway after suspicious packages were reportedly found at multiple diplomatic consulates on January 9.

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

Investigating officers at the U.S Consulate on St Kilda Road said the package had been found in the mail room.

Hazardous material warnings were also shown near the Indonesian, Thai, Greek, Egyptian and Japanese consulates in Melbourne.

Melbourne's Metropolitan Fire Brigade said it had been called to "a number of incidents" across the city, BBC News reports.

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.

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

There are reports the packages contain white powder laced with asbestos, and that warnings were emailed to staffers at the consulates prior to the delivery telling them to "wear masks" when opening the packages. She has been quarantined for treatment, the sources said. "The circumstances are being investigated".

Victoria Police will work to assist the AFP and other agencies including the MFB with the management and investigation of this issue.

Embassies in Canberra have also been hit, but it is not known which ones have been affected, according to AAP.

However the United States embassy in Canberra was not targeted with a package, a spokesperson said.

  • Joey Payne