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MORE than 100 staff were evacuated after two suspicious packages were opened at The Border Mail yesterday morning, closing the building for six hours.
Management called police after two envelopes containing a suspicious powder were opened about 10am yesterday.
“When we became aware that the substance had been found we followed regular evacuation procedures for the building, which went smoothly,” Border Mail editor Di Thomas said.
“I want to thank police and emergency services for their guidance and co-operation.”
More than 100 Border Mail and Department of Environment and Primary Industry staff were evacuated from the McKoy Street building and remained either on-site in an adjacent building or worked off-site.
No one was injured.
Police arrived a short time later, closing the building for public safety and to preserve the scene for a criminal investigation.
North East police Superintendent Paul O’Halloran said the incident was treated as an emergency response.
“That means there’s a number of agencies that come together; the Department of Health, the CFA, Ambulance Victoria and Victoria Police,” he said.
A specialist forensic team from Melbourne was called to examine the substance, arriving about 2pm and conducted testing on-site.
The area was declared safe about 3.30pm and the building was re-opened at 3.45pm.
Supt O’Halloran said Wodonga detectives will investigate the incident.
“Police will now be conducting further forensic examination and an investigation into the incident,” he said.
He urged anyone with information to come forward.
Ms Thomas said staff continued to file stories and photographs throughout the day and the paper was able to be produced as usual last night.
“I want to apologise to our readers and advertisers who were inconvenienced by the closure of our Wodonga office for several hours yesterday and assure them that our regular means of contact have now been restored,” she said.
“I also want to commend all editorial, advertising, classifieds and production staff who went about their business in spite of having to move to premises in Albury or work from home.”
Anyone with information can phone Crime Stoppers anonymously on 1800 333 000.