October 27, 2014 / 9:23 AM / 3 years ago

Suspicious powder sent to consulates in Istanbul shows no signs of biological agent

Members of Turkey's disaster management agency (AFAD) carry bags from the Hungarian consulate in Istanbul October 27, 2014. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey said the unidentified yellow powder sent to a number of consulates in Istanbul showed no initial signs of biological threat agents such as anthrax or plague, but said further tests were being carried out for other possible substances.

The consulates of the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Belgium and Hungary have received suspicious packages containing powder, prompting security alerts. Twenty-five people from these missions were hospitalised as a precaution.

“According to initial tests on the suspicious powder, there was no sign of anthrax, plague, tularemia, ricin or botulinum toxin or any other biological warfare substance,” Turkey’s health ministry said in a statement.

“However, results of advanced biological tests into other possible biological warfare substances and forms of anthrax will be completed later today and results will be made public,” the statement added.

Most of the packages were discovered on Friday. The package at the Hungarian consulate is believed to have been sent at the same time as the others but was not opened until Monday morning as the mission was unstaffed over the weekend, the governor’s office said.

“Our units have been sent to the scene for the decontamination of the venue and of the personnel who have been exposed to the powder,” the Istanbul governor’s office said in a statement on its website.

Ten of those hospitalised last week were from the Canadian consulate, which remained closed on Monday. Canadian diplomatic missions overseas have been on heightened alert since two separate militant attacks last week in the capital Ottawa and in Quebec.

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Ece Toksabay; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Dominic Evans

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