Victorian man charged with sending 38 packages containing asbestos to consulates

A firefighter carries a hazardous material bag into a consulate in Melbourne on Wednesday after suspicious packages were sent to foreign missions around the city

Officials from the Pakistani and New Zealand consulates said the packages had the word "asbestos" written on the side, the ABC reports.

Police say a 48-year-old man was arrested at his home in Shepparton, Victoria state, on Wednesday night, and charged with sending risky articles to be carried by a postal service.

He was charged with sending risky articles to be carried by a postal service and has been remanded in custody following a Melbourne Magistrates' Court hearing today.

Police alleged that the man had sent 38 parcels in all to consulates and embassies in Melbourne.

A 48-year-old from northern Victoria has been arrested and charged over dozens of suspicious packages that were delivered to embassies and consulates throughout Australia.

He was apprehended last night at his home, with images obtained by 9News showing police in hazmat gear assessing the suspect's home.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported that a worker from the New Zealand consulate in Melbourne had said the packages in question were envelopes labelled "asbestos".

"Forensic testing [is] to be undertaken on them to determine the exact composition of the material in them", the AFP said in a statement on Thursday.

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

Avan will next appear in court in March.

"Police have identified all intended recipients and have put processes in place to recover the outstanding packages". The Victoria state police said on January 9 that they believe the incidents are targeted, and that the general public is not at great risk.

Savas Avan appeared in a Melbourne court after being arrested at his home in rural Victoria state on Wednesday, the same day several consulates in Melbourne received the suspicious packages, authorities said.

At least two consulates in Melbourne did not contact authorities about packages until they received an email from the Australian government.

The maximum penalty is 10 years' jail.

DFAT said IT had sent an email to all Canberra-based diplomatic missions yesterday, and then to other consulates across Australia.

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