Foreign consulates evacuated; suspicious packages at embassies

Posted at 11:45 PM, Jan 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-08 23:49:53-05

(CNN) — Emergency services in Australia’s capital, Canberra and its second largest city, Melbourne, are responding to reports of multiple suspicious packages believed to have been delivered to a number of embassies and consulates in the two cities.

The Swiss consulate in Melbourne confirmed to CNN that a suspicious package was delivered at around 1.30 p.m. local time Wednesday (9.30 p.m. Tuesday ET), and that the police and fire services are currently investigating.

A British High Commission spokesperson also confirmed that a suspicious package was sent to their Melbourne consulate and they were liaising closely with Australian Federal Police and the local authorities regarding the situation.

A spokesman for the US consulate in Melbourne told CNN that after receiving a suspicious package staff “followed standard procedures and alerted local authorities. The Melbourne fire brigade and Australian Federal Police are currently investigating. We have full faith and confidence in them.”

The Australian Federal Police confirmed that “Police and emergency services have responded to suspicious packages to embassies and consulates in ACT & VIC today.

“The packages are being examined by attending emergency services. The circumstances are being investigated.”

Melbourne is home to numerous diplomatic missions. The city’s Indian consulate, as well as the German, Pakistani, Korean, Italian and Greek consulates are also believed to have been affected, according to CNN affiliate Nine News.

A reporter from CNN affiliate Seven News also reported that firefighters and federal police had been called to the New Zealand embassy.

Melbourne emergency services have responded to a number of call-outs for “hazardous material” in the last hour according to the state’s emergency response website, which shows a total of 17 hazardous material incidents currently in progress.

A number of the incidents listed are categorized as being “under control,” while others are listed as emergency services “responding.”

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