Toronto: Evacuation of Queen's Park--Possible Biohazardous Material : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread


Monday, January 29, 2001

Cops evacuate Queen's Park

TORONTO (CP) -- A suspicious package found in the mailroom of an Ontario government building forced thousands of civil servants to the streets Wednesday, just a day after a similar evacuation in Ottawa.

"It's a package about the size of a shoe box and it was discovered in the mailroom," said Sgt. Rob Knapper of the Toronto police force.

Knapper said police had not decided what to do with the package by late Wednesday morning.

Investigators in bio-hazard protection suits were seen entering the evacuated Ontario government buildings. There was no word on when the civil servants would be allowed to return to their offices.

The scare came after a federal government building in Ottawa was cleared Tuesday when a package containing a bacterial agent was discovered in the mailroom.

The substance was inside a letter addressed to Immigration Minister Elinor Caplan.

About 1,500 workers, mostly in the Immigration department, were evacuated and five employees who came into contact with the letter were given antibiotics, Caplan told a news conference in Ottawa.

"I know that there were some who were taken care of and the suggestion was that they be given precaution medication," she said.

"They are taking every precaution. . .we want to make sure that we do everything appropriate until we have all the answers."

The substance has been shipped to a lab in Winnipeg for analysis.

Workers have still not been allowed to return to their offices and Immigration officials say the building will remain closed at least until Thursday.

In Toronto, Knapper said it was too early in the investigation to determine if there's any link between the two incidents. He wouldn't say whether the Toronto package constituted a biological or a bomb threat.

Ontario civil servants from at least three or four government office towers were left huddling in the rain as a team of police descended upon the corner of downtown Bay and Wellesley Streets, where a cluster of government buildings are located.

As of noon Wednesday, no one was being allowed back into the buildings by police after the 8:20 a.m. evacuation.

A spokeswoman for legislative security says it will be up to Toronto police to give the all-clear to let the civil servants back in their offices.

-- Rachel Gibson (, January 31, 2001

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