Suspicious packages sent to embassies in Australia

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Australian police are investigating suspicious packages found at foreign consulates and embassies in Melbourne and Canberra.

Some reports said as many as 22 consulates had received packages, some of which apparently contained asbestos.

Emergency services raced to a string of diplomatic facilities which had received packages containing suspected hazardous material, all within the space of a few hours.

Suspicious packages have sparked a major emergency response and evacuation of some foreign consulates across Melbourne, including New Zealand, with embassies in Canberra also hit.

It is not yet known which embassies in Canberra have been affected.

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The packages - which are still being examined but are not believed to be harmful - were delivered to facilities in the capital and several addresses across the southern Australian city, police confirmed.

A spokeswoman for the FCO said: "We are liaising closely with the Australian Federal Police and the local authorities regarding the situation".

"The circumstances are being investigated", the Australian Federal Police said in a statement.

Pictures posted on social media showed cordons outside the Indian and South Korean consulates, both on St Kilda Road in the south of the city.

On the Emergency Victoria website, there have been more than 13 "hazardous material" alerts listed since 2pm.

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Staff were evacuated from the Consulate as a precautionary measure.

Addresses for the events included Market Street, Bourke Street, Middleton Lane, William Street, and St Kilda Road in Melbourne, Elgin Street at Carlton, and Yertchuk Avenue at Ashwood.

The incident came on the heels of a similar suspicious package delivery to the Argentinian consulate in Sydney on Monday, which was later found not to contain harmful material.

The powder, contained in clear plastic bags within an envelope, was subsequently deemed not unsafe.

"All our staff are safe and accounted for", said a British High Commission spokesperson.

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