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ANTHRAX SCARE DELAYS THE POST; Sorting office workers are evacuated after white powder leaks from parcel.

Byline: DUNCAN GIBBONS

SCORES of postal workers were evacuated from the Mill Road sorting office in Rugby yesterday during an anthrax scare.

Suspicions were aroused when white powder leaked from a parcel at about 6.15am.

Alarms were activated and 150 workers were ordered off site while police investigated.

The crisis led to some mail being delivered later than usual.

Tests later revealed the package, which had been posted in Sri Lanka, contained a vegetable-based powder which would be coloured and used in religious ceremonies.

But one worker, who wanted to remain anonymous, criticised the decision to allow staff back in before the nature of the substance had been determined.

"I am a little bit alarmed that we were allowed back in to an environment that may not have been safe," he said.

"Nobody knew what it was at that point and it was only later discovered it was harmless.

"It could have been potentially dangerous."

A Royal Mail spokesman said: "Police came and assessed the package and decided it was harmless.

"The health and safety of our staff and customers is paramount. Our staff are all trained in what to look for in a suspicious package and there are procedures to follow.

"In this case the police took over and we liaised with them. All I can say is that the police believed it was harmless.

"All deliveries eventually went out but some were delayed for a while."

House of Commons suspended in anthrax scare, Page 2
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Oct 19, 2001
Words:248
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