NZ consulate evacuated in Australia after receiving suspicious package

'Suspicious packages' found at consulates in Australia

Suspicious packages sent to embassies and consulates in Melbourne and Canberra

The NZ consulate was one of at least seven worldwide consulates evacuated after multiple suspicious packages were found, in what officials labelled a "hazardous material" event. "The circumstances are being investigated", it said.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) said in a tweet that emergency services responded to "suspicious packages" at embassies and consulates in Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and Victoria.

The AFP said some embassies and consulates in Canberra had also been affected.

Several foreign consulates have been evacuated in Melbourne as Australian officials note they are responding to multiple "hazardous material" events in the city.

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 now in progress.

"We are aware of reports of suspicious packages being received and are cooperating with the AFP", a British consulate spokesman said.

Domestic media reported that more than a dozen foreign offices received the packages and some staff said they contained asbestos, a material used in building that can cause cancers and other health problems.

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Australian media reported earlier that packages were sent to at least nine global missions in Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city, including the British, German, Swiss and Indian embassies.

The ministry said staff were evacuated as a precautionary measure.

The United Kingdom consulate, located on Collins Street in Melbourne, along with the German consulate and Swiss consulate, were also affected.

A firefighter is seen carrying a hazardous material bag into the South Korean consulate in Melbourne.

A spokeswoman for the service said: "We are assisting the Australian Federal Police right now with a number of incidents across Melbourne".

Footage showed emergency services workers attended the US, Greek, French, Italian, Hong Kong, Indian, New Zealand, Pakistan and Swiss consulates.

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