More than 10 international consulates and embassies in Melbourne and Canberra have been sent suspicious packages containing white powder, some reportedly marked with the word "asbestos".
A worker at the Pakistani consulate in Melbourne opened one of the packages about 10am on Wednesday.
It is understood the envelope, which looked like a normal letter, was addressed to the Consulate-General of Pakistan.
Initial suspicions were raised by a spelling mistake on the envelope, with "consulate" misspelled.
Inside, the worker discovered a small item that looked like a marble tile, and three packages of tightly packed powder, The Age understands.
The staff member did not touch the contents of the package.
However, authorities were not contacted until the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade emailed the consulate, warning them that similar packages had been sent to other consulates in Melbourne.
The South Korean, Indian and New Zealand consulates in Melbourne were all evacuated after receiving packages.
The US consulate was placed in lockdown at 1.30pm after staff scanned a suspicious package and discovered it contained white powder.
Suspicious packages were also delivered to the British, Spanish, Greek, Taiwanese and Turkish consulates.
There were unconfirmed reports that packages could have been sent to up to 22 locations, including the Italian, Thai, Swiss and Egyptian consulates.
Australian Federal Police said a number of packages sent to consulates and embassies in Melbourne and Canberra were being examined by emergency services and the circumstances around the incidents were under investigation.
Victoria Police said they believed the consulates were specifically "targeted" and the situation was "not impacting the general community".
It was believed the US Embassy in Yarralumla had received a suspicious package, but the ACT Emergency Services Agency confirmed firefighters and police were attendeding a training exercise at the time by coincidence.
Firefighters wearing hazmat suits entered the South Korean and Indian consulates on St Kilda Road in Melbourne shortly after 2pm, and staff were evacuated.
Metropolitan Fire Brigade station officer Bryan Kellett said a suspicious "envelope-sized" package was delivered to the Indian consulate last week, but that the alarm was not raised until Wednesday.
"We treat it as the worst, now it will be examined as to exactly what the substance was and dealt with accordingly," he said.
"Totally safe now, its been sealed and is under police guard."
Witnesses at the Spanish consulate on Elgin Street, Carlton, said police swarmed the area just after 2pm. One woman left about four hours later barefoot, and wearing a decontamination suit.
Ambulance Victoria said they attended a number of consulates around Melbourne on Wednesday, but no one was taken to hospital.
A spokesman for the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed the country's consulate in Melbourne received a suspicious package and "staff were evacuated from the consulate as a precautionary measure".
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the British High Commission it was "liaising closely with the Australian Federal Police and the local authorities regarding the situation".
Emergency Victoria issued eight “Hazardous Material” alerts within 30 minutes on Wednesday afternoon.
The scare comes comes two days after after the discovery of a suspicious substance inside parcels at the Argentinian consulate prompted a large emergency response in Sydney's CBD.
with Melissa Cunningham