Australia consulate scares: Arrest over '38 suspicious parcels'

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Australian Federal Police arrested a 48-year-old Shepparton man later that night at his home.

Some of the packages were reported to contain what appeared to be concrete, and were labelled asbestos.

Victorian man Savas Avan has been charged over the series of suspicious packages received at consulates across Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney on Wednesday.

Several foreign consulates in southeastern Australia were evacuated Wednesday as emergency workers responded to multiple "hazardous material" events in the city.

Police recovered 29 of the packages, which were still being tested to determine their contents.

Police said it would be alleged in court that the suspect sent 38 parcels to the consulates and embassies of foreign countries including Germany, the United Kingdom and the US.

They identified all the intended recipients and were working to recover the remaining packages, but said there was no ongoing risk to the public.

Victoria Police said they believed the consulates were specifically "targeted" and the situation was "not impacting the general community".

"The maximum penalty for the offence the man has been charged with is 10 years imprisonment", the statement added.

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

It came two days after Sydney's Argentinian consulate was partially evacuated following reports of a suspicious substance.

An official from the Greek consulate told SBS Greek radio they first became suspicious due to the lack of return address.

"They were very quick on to it, they provided advice to the relevant consular residences and in practical terms we learnt very quickly, that evening, that the substance was inert", he said.

"After learning of incidents at three offices in Sydney and Canberra, DFAT sent a note to all diplomatic missions in Canberra on 8 January alerting them to the possibility of suspicious packages being delivered by mail".

The Pakistani consulate was delivered a package at 10am on Wednesday morning but contacted authorities only when prompted by an email from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Age reported.