Friday, February 20, 2004

Powder found

White powder has been discovered at a State Department satellite visa office:

A US State Department satellite visa office has been sealed after the discovery of a white powder, suspected to be anthrax, in an Indian passport.

An envelope containing the passport was opened at about 11 am on Thursday in the visa service unit on the seventh floor of a building in Columbia Plaza.

The powder spilled from between the Indian passport's pages, Fire Department spokesman Alan Etter said.

Officials sealed off the floor and briefly quarantined about 20 employees while preliminary tests were conducted on the powder. The tests found that the powder contained protein, leaving open the possibility that it could contain anthrax spores, Etter said.

The workers were allowed to go home after it was found that they had suffered no ill effects, but the seventh floor remained off limits, he added.


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