Suspicious package at UN hqrs creates panic

The package led to anxious moments but was found not to contain any harmful substances.

india Updated: Dec 16, 2006 15:19 IST

A suspicious looking package found in the press area of the United Nations headquarters led to anxious moments but was found not to contain any harmful substances.

The package was found on the fourth floor of the UN headquarters near offices of CNN, Press Trust of India, Inter Press Service and Associated Press.

The packet gave moments of anxiety as white powder was leaking from it, a UN spokesperson said.

The area was immediately cordoned off but later officials said the substance found was non-toxic.

Earlier, some 20 people who came in contact were asked to wash the exposed areas of their bodies.

The package was found by the security officials who informed the New York police which, in turn, sent hazardous material experts to examine the substance.

Though the building was not evacuated, precautionary measures were taken, including closing off the surrounding area as well as a corridor off the main lobby on the ground floor near a security office where the package was taken.

Hazardous material experts in yellow space suits could be seen along the corridor with large orange plastic bags. The experts told reporters on the fourth floor near CNN that they might have to be decontaminated along with other UN staff.

The Associated Press office at the UN, which is near CNN, was initially closed off but UN security guards later allowed reporters to leave.

First Published: Dec 16, 2006 15:19 IST