On Tuesday, the British consulate in Canberra and Melbourne received “suspicious packages”, which are being investigated by the Australian police. According to reports, multiple other foreign embassies have also received these packages.
Melbourne’s Metropolitan Fire Brigade, which is assisting the Australian Federal Police, said that they had been called to “a number of incidents” across the city.
Apart from the British consulate, others that have been targeted, include the United States, India, Switzerland, Pakistan, Germany, Italy, Korea, and Russia.
It was reported that the packages received by these foreign embassies contain “hazardous material,” that prompted immediate investigation by the Australian police department.
VicEmergency reported that at least 10 hazardous material incidents took place. These included the one on Collins Street that is home to the British consulate, while others took place on St Kilda Road, Queens Street, Albert Road and William Street, close to the central business district, and also separately in Ashwood.
An Australian Federal Police spokeswoman stated, “Police and emergency services have responded to suspicious packages delivered to embassies in Melbourne today.”
She said that the attending emergency services are examining these packages, while the “circumstances surrounding these incidents” are also being investigated.
The investigation over the matter has been described as a “major operation”.
According to the Melbourne State police, the incidents were believed to be “targeted and not impacting the general community”.
At least eight vehicles were seen attending the incidents. Fire crews were reportedly seen near the British consulate. Moreover, Emergency workers were also located at consulates belonging to New Zealand, Greece, South Korea, India, Italy and France.
According to the Preliminary and unverified reports, the suspicious packages contained the words “asbestos” and “wear a mask”.
Peter Erb, the husband of honorary consul Manuela Erb, said that the Swiss consulate in Melbourne received a small envelope containing a substance labelled “asbestos.” They immediately “rang the emergency service” and handed over the package to them.
Two days ago, a similar incident was reported in Sydney, where the Argentine consulate was sent a parcel with suspicious white substance inside.
While the investigations over the suspicious packages received by the British consulate and other foreign embassies are going on, it is difficult to determine if the incidents are an act of terrorism.