Australian charged with sending dangerous parcels to diplomatic missions

Hazmat and fire crews work outside the Indian and French Consulate in Melbourne Australia

Hazmat and fire crews work outside the Indian and French Consulate in Melbourne Australia

The man was scheduled to appear in the Melbourne magistrates court on Thursday.

The substance in the packages is "suspected to have been sourced from his Shepparton home" in Northern Victoria, police said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed that it had warned all consulates to be on high alert for suspicious packages on Tuesday after three similar recent incidents in consulates in Sydney and Canberra.

On Wednesday, emergency services raced to a string of diplomatic facilities in Melbourne that had received the suspect packages.

"Police have so far recovered 29 of these packages, with forensic testing to be undertaken on them to determine the exact composition of the material in them", the federal and state police said in a joint statement.

The Indian and U.S. consulates on St Kilda Road, along with the British, Swiss, German Korean, Greek, Italian, Pakistani and Egyptian missions were targeted.

Police say there is no ongoing threat to the public as they have identified all other recipients of the remaining parcels and have processes in place to seize them.

On Wednesday suspicious packages were received at embassies in Canberra as well as the US, Pakistani, Swiss, Indian, South Korean, New Zealand, Greek, French, Italian, Spanish and Turkish consulates in Melbourne. "The circumstances are being investigated".

Authorities are yet to confirm what was in the parcels, but early reports suggested they appeared to contain asbestos.

Two fire trucks, a hazardous materials vehicle and police cars were called to the Consulate-General of India on St Kilda Road, where staff sat outside the building, telling reporters they had been told not to comment to reporters.

In an incredible coincidence, Australian authorities practiced an emergency drill including hazmat response at the U.S. Embassy in Canberra, on the day that the package was opened by its sister office in Melbourne.

Local media on Monday reported that the Argentine consulate in Sydney had received a package containing white powder. The powder was deemed not unsafe by New South Wales police.

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