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Powder in Letters to Police Is Not Anthrax

September 05, 2002|From Reuters

BOSTON — The powder found in threatening letters received Wednesday by at least 11 Massachusetts police stations is not anthrax, state health officials said, dispelling fears of a new letter-borne attack.

"It appears to be a hoax," said Roseanne Pawelec, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Ralph Timperi, director of the department's laboratory, said it would take more tests to determine what the powder was, but he stressed there was little reason to believe the letters contained any credible threat.

"We've done rapid tests on three of the letters and ruled out anthrax," Timperi told a local radio station.

Pawelec and Timperi said that since all 11 envelopes were identical, there was no need to do any more rapid tests. Instead, health officials will move on to a more detailed examination to determine the nature of the powder.

The FBI was investigating the source of the letters, Pawelec said.

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