48-year-old arrested Shepparton man arrested from his home for allegedly posting out 38 packages including Melbourne’s Indian consulate
Melbourne, January 10: More than 38 parcels had been allegedly posted out sent to 14 consulates in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.
Receipt of suspicious packages was reported from multiple Melbourne consulates yesterday, which sparked a major emergency “hazardous material” response and evacuation of many foreign consulates across Melbourne.
The Consulate General of India in Melbourne was attended by police, fire crews and ambulance yesterday afternoon. Other consulate offices that also had to be evacuated were Germany, Italy, Spain, UK & US among others.
A number of these diplomatic missions in Melbourne went into lockdown after the series of packages were received.
Specialist fire-fighters carried out large bags marked ‘DANGER ASBESTOS’ as they came out of the Indian Consulate on St Kilda Road.
Two fire trucks and a hazardous materials vehicle attended the Consulate office of India and staff were evacuated.
Indian consulate staff had been issued directive to not comment to media. They later re-entered the building when Emergency workers announced ‘safe’ around 3pm on Wednesday.
Consulates of Pakistan and New Zealand also received envelopes containing small plastic bags with what appeared to be concrete and asbestos inside, ABC news reported.
The Pakistani consulate was delivered a package at 10am on Wednesday morning but contacted authorities only when prompted by an email from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Age reported.
Emergency services were first alerted to the packages at the US Consulate and Indian Consulate about 12.30pm.
The packages reportedly contained white powder laced with asbestos, and that warnings were emailed to staff at the consulates prior to the delivery telling them to “wear masks”.
It is understood that the packages were delivered by Australia Post. The package contained a plastic bag and was labelled “asbestos”.
“Police and emergency services have responded to suspicious packages delivered to embassies in Melbourne,” an Australian Federal Police statement said.
“The packages are being examined by attending emergency services.
“The circumstances surrounding these incidents are being investigated.”
Victoria Police confirmed a number of consulates in Melbourne received suspicious packages in what it said was a targeted attack.
“At this time we believe the matter is targeted and not impacting the general community,” a statement read.
The first parcel was received at the Argentinian consulate in Sydney on Monday and contained powder in clear plastic bags inside an envelope. The powder was deemed not dangerous upon examination by New South Wales police.
A 48-year-old man Shepparton man was arrested from his home last night, Wednesday, charged with sending dangerous articles to be carried by a postal service, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years jail under the Criminal Code Act 1995.
The man is scheduled to appear in the Melbourne magistrates court today, Thursday.
Authorities are yet to confirm what was in the parcels, but early reports suggest they appeared to contain asbestos. Police recovered 29 of the 38 packages.
Australia Post has meanwhile halted the remaining parcels.
DFAT spokesman told AAP it had sent an email to all consulates around Australia, “alerting them to the possibility of suspicious packages being delivered by mail”.