Powder-filled letters from India spark alarm at 11 universities in Greece

All the letters, delivered or intercepted Wednesday and Thursday, have been taken to a state lab for examination.

Published: 11th January 2019 12:56 PM  |   Last Updated: 11th January 2019 04:07 PM   |  A+A-

Letter

For representational purposes

By Associated Press

ATHENS: At least nine people have received medical attention after about a dozen letters containing a white powder described as consisting of "industrial irritants" were sent to 11 university and college offices around Greece, authorities said Thursday.

None of the people examined, including postal workers and university staff members, displayed any symptoms caused by poisonous chemicals, but several patients reported mild breathing problems, officials said.

Several of the people examined were briefly kept in isolation and later released. Officials said several letters appeared to have been sent from India, adding that they are also examining printed material found in the letters, without giving any further details.

Police had no immediate comment on reports by Greek state-run television that the printed material included "Islamic content."

The letters, mostly delivered or intercepted Wednesday and Thursday, have been taken to state labs for examination. An air force transport plane and a special forces unit of the Fire Service were used to transport them.

Greece Civil Protection Agency said the first batch of powder analyzed showed that it consisted of "materials used as bonding agents and for printing" that could also be used as "industrial irritants."

The agency issued a warning to the post office and academic staff around Greece not to open any suspicious packages.

The targeted administrative offices were at campuses on the islands of Crete, Lesbos, and Corfu as well as in Athens, the northern city of Thessaloniki, and several mainland towns.

Police said that all the universities and colleges were operating normally Thursday.

Several state health services were also alerted.

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