White powder sent to U.S. federal building

Authorities have said that seven people in a U.S. federal building in downtown Manhattan were exposed to a suspicious white powder.

Jose Costa, New York Fire Department spokesman, confirmed that seven people were exposed to the as-yet unknown white powder.

The white powder led to the evacuation of the offices of the Social Security Administration on the building's 40th floor. Several other agencies are housed in the building, including the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Federal Bureau of Intelligence.

"There was a mailing that was opened at 2:15 p.m. in the offices of the SSA (Social Security Administration)," FBI spokesman Jim Margolin told Reuters. "It contained a white powder that was contained and isolated and will be analyzed."

Results of the analysis on the white powder were not immediately known.

This most recent scare involving a white powder - which authorities have been on alert for since envelopes laced with anthrax were sent to media outlets and lawmakers in 2001, resulting in five deaths - follows a November scare that saw U.N. missions of several countries receiving letters containing white powder. That powder was eventually found to be flour.

As a precaution during the November scare, at least 40 people were decontaminated.