Suspicious package sent to US embassy in New Zealand

Suspicious package sent to US embassy in New Zealand
The New Zealand parliament, pictured in Wellington on Jun 3, 201l, was one of three destinations for suspicious packages, the others being the United States embassy and the New Zealand Herald newspaper office in Auckland.

WELLINGTON - Emergency services rushed to the United States embassy in Wellington on Wednesday (Nov 12) after a suspicious package was found in the third such incident in less than 24 hours in New Zealand.

"A suspicious package was identified during the normal mail screening process and was referred to the fire service and the police," an embassy spokesman said. The package was discovered a day after two parcels containing Ebola references were discovered in New Zealand.

"The embassy is open and continues to operate normally ... The embassy continues to monitor the situation closely," the spokesman said in a statement. A police bomb disposal unit was at the scene and fire-fighters wearing chemical suits were outside the building.

During screening, X-ray examination revealed a vial in the package, which has been sent unopened to a government laboratory for testing, police spokesman Nick Bohm said.

An embassy staff member was also decontaminated as a safety precaution. "It's standard procedure in cases like this. The decontamination unit was at the scene," Bohm told AFP.

On Tuesday, suspicious packages were delivered to the parliament building in Wellington and to the New Zealand Herald newspaper office in Auckland. The packages contained a plastic bottle and documents that claimed that the liquid in the vial was a sample of the deadly Ebola virus.

The liquid has been sent to Australia for testing for the virus which has claimed nearly 5,000 lives mostly in West Africa. Health authorities stressed there was no evidence to suggest New Zealand was dealing with Ebola.

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