Suspicious packages sent to embassies in Australia

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News agency Reuters quoted Australian police as saying, "The packages are being examined by attending emergency services".

Image: Police are investigating a suspicious package sent to the British Consulate in Melbourne.

"The circumstances surrounding the incidents are being investigated", the statement said.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) said it was aware of suspicious packages being delivered to embassies and consulates across Melbourne and Canberra.

Embassies in Canberra have also been targeted.

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

Melbourne emergency services have responded to a number of call-outs for "hazardous material" in the last hour according to the state's emergency response website, which shows a total of 17 hazardous material incidents now in progress.

The Indian consulate and United States embassy, both located on St Kilda Road in Melbourne, are believed to be have been affected, as well as the Swiss, British, German, Spanish, Korean and New Zealand consulates and embassies.

A British High Commission official said: "We are liaising closely with the [federal police] and the local authorities".

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There were no immediate reports of any of the consulate staff being harmed in the incidents.

"All our staff are safe and accounted for".

"We handled the package according to our standard procedures and in close coordination with local authorities - the Melbourne Fire Brigade and the Australian Federal Police - who are investigating the incident", he said.

There are also reports the Korean, Greek, Italian, Pakistani and Egyptian consulates have also been in lockdown.

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

"We are assisting at a number of embassies across Melbourne", she said.

Emergency services attended consulates across Melbourne's central busy district and the inner city.

Emergency workers wearing chemical suits were seen entering some of the buildings.