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Suspicious White Powder Mailed to Australian Minister

June 03, 2005|From Associated Press

CANBERRA, Australia — A suspicious powder was found today in a package addressed to the foreign minister, but a government laboratory analysis "found it does not contain any dangerous materials," the Australian Federal Police said in a statement.

The scare came just days after a similar scare closed the Indonesian Embassy here.

The loading dock at Parliament House was temporarily shut after the package was discovered during a routine screening, Department of Parliamentary Service head Hilary Penfold said in a statement.

"The package was addressed to the minister for foreign affairs and trade, the Hon. Alexander Downer," she said. "With the authorization of the intended recipient, the package was opened in a secure area and found to contain a sealed plastic bag of white powder."

Firefighters took the substance to the laboratory.

Police said the staffer who came into contact with the powder underwent a precautionary decontamination procedure.

The security scare followed the closure of the nearby Indonesian Embassy on Wednesday because of a suspicious powder found in a parcel sent to the ambassador.

A preliminary report found that substance was probably harmless.

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