| 10.01,19. 03:29 AM |
Police investigating after consulates and embassies in Melbourne and Canberra receive suspicious packages
Police investigating after foreign consulates in Melbourne receive suspicious packages (ABC News)
Authorities are investigating after suspicious packages were found at several foreign consulates and embassies across Melbourne and Canberra on Wednesday.
Footage showed emergency services workers attended the US, Greek, French, Italian, Indian, New Zealand, Pakistani, Spanish, South Korean and Swiss consulates in Melbourne.
They also attended an incident at the South Melbourne building where the Consulate General of Turkey is based.
The incidents came two days after the ABC understands the Argentinian consulate in Sydney was sent three bags containing asbestos and fibreglass.
One official from Pakistan's consulate in Melbourne told the ABC that she opened a suspicious envelope at 10:00am, which appeared to contain asbestos.
She told the ABC she was "scared of what might happen".
The official said she was told by the authorities to wash her hands.
One New Zealand official told the ABC their consulate received a similar envelope.
She said that inside the envelope were small plastic bags with what appeared to be concrete and asbestos.
Written on the outside of the bag was the word "asbestos".
A police officer was seen inside the New Zealand consulate wearing a face mask.
AFP investigates packages across Melbourne and Canberra
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) said it was aware of suspicious packages being delivered to embassies and consulates across Melbourne and Canberra.
"The packages are being examined by attending emergency services," a spokeswoman said.
"The circumstances surrounding these incidents are being investigated."
In a statement, Victoria Police said they were aware that "a number" of consulate offices had received suspicious packages.
"At this time we believe the matter is targeted and not impacting the general community," the statement said.
"Victoria Police will work to assist the AFP and other agencies including the [Metropolitan Fire Brigade] with the management and investigation of this issue."
More than a dozen hazardous material alerts have been issued on the VicEmergency website.
A spokesman for the US consulate in Melbourne also confirmed it had received a suspicious package.
"We handled the package according to our standard procedures and in close coordination with local authorities — the Melbourne Fire Brigade and the Australian Federal Police — who are investigating the incident," he said.
However the US embassy in Canberra was not targeted with a package, a spokesperson said.
Manuela Erb, the honorary consul of the Consulate of Switzerland in Melbourne, told the ABC that they had received a suspicious package at their Ashwood address.
"It's believed to be non-hazardous, however they're treating it as hazardous," she said.