Victorian man charged over suspect embassy packages

Local media quoted court documents saying the substance in the parcels was asbestos a cancer-causing material. — AFP

Local media quoted court documents saying the substance in the parcels was asbestos a cancer-causing material. — AFP

The government Vic Emergency website noted several "hazardous material" incidents, the AP reported.

A man was arrested in the Victorian town of Shepparton, with police suspecting that the material sent to diplomatic missions came from his home.

The American, British, Indian, Italian, New Zealand, Korean, Egyptian, Pakistani, Greek, Danish, Spanish, Japanese, Thai and German consulates were among those impacted in Melbourne yesterday afternoon.

Detectives allege the man sent 38 parcels to consulates and embassies in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney, with a substance suspected to have been sourced from his Shepparton home.

Police said they have identified all the intended recipients and have put procedures in place to recover the outstanding packages. "There is no ongoing threat to the general public", it added.

Mr Pallas was pleased with the swift response by authorities.

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The packages were sent two days after an envelope containing powder was sent to the Argentinian consulate in Sydney. They gave no additional details of how the asbestos was packaged or what the motive might have been.

More than a dozen foreign missions received suspicious packages on Wednesday, including the consulates of the United States and the United Kingdom in Melbourne, Australia's second-biggest city.

"They were very quick on to it, they provided advice to the relevant consular residences and in practical terms we learnt very quickly, that evening, that the substance was inert", he said.

An incident was also listed at the South Melbourne building where the Consulate General of Turkey is based. Some packages were labeled with the word "asbestos". "Written on the top was "samples" and because it didn't have a return address and without it having a note inside, we thought it was suspicious and, because of that, we isolated it from the start", Ms Botsiou said, translated from Greek.

Around 10 diplomatic missions, mostly in Melbourne, on Wednesday reported the delivery of suspicious packages, some of them labelled "asbestos".

Avan, who was originally said by police to be 48 years old, will next appear in court in March.

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