Man arrested after suspicious packages were found at foreign consulates and embassies

A firefighter carries a hazardous material bag into the Korean Consulate in Melbourne on Wednesday

Magistrate Costas Kilias asked Commonwealth prosecutor Matthew Thompson which material was allegedly involved in the incident and was told asbestos.

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

The Australian Federal Police has not yet confirmed if the two incidences are believed to be related.

The arrested man is expected to appear in a Melbourne court on Thursday, charged with sending risky articles through the post.

The man is expected to appear before Melbourne Magistrate's Court on Thursday morning.

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Police allege he sent 38 parcels with a substance from his home in Shepparton, Victoria, but said the exact composition of the substance is still being determined.

Police allege he sent 38 parcels containing a unsafe substance to consulates and embassies in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.

Police did not release the suspect's name.

India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Korea, Switzerland and the United States consulates were among a number across Melbourne and Canberra targeted with suspicious packages yesterday, sparking an emergency "hazardous material" response and some evacuations.

The matter is due to return to court on 4 March.

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"Police have identified all intended recipients and have put processes in place to recover the outstanding packages", the AFP said in a statement.

Police have so far recovered 29 packages, which will be forensically tested, police said. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, police said. They gave no additional details of how the asbestos was packaged or what the motive might have been.

The incident comes just days after emergency services were called to the Argentinian consulate in Sydney's CBD after reports that a suspicious substance was found in a parcel.

There was no ongoing threat to the public, authorities said.

The Australian government had issued a warning to foreign missions on Tuesday about suspicious mail items, after an earlier discovery of three packages.

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