Powder scare causes evacuation of Switzerland's largest postal service center
A total of 220 people were evacuated from the Muelligen postal center in the Schlieren district, which is north of Zurich, on Tuesday after workers complained that they had become ill from white powder found in two letters, Gulf-Times.com reports.
Thirty-four people were sent to the hospital after the powder's discovery but were all released by Wednesday. The evacuation remained in effect for three hours, with police allowing employees back in to work by midnight.
At the scene, doctors reported a number of people showing symptoms of poisoning, including headaches, vomiting and respiratory difficulties, according to Gulf-Times.com.
Roland Portmann of the Zurich police rescue services said that the powder was found to be starch after analysis and could not account for the symptoms. Portmann did suggest, however, that the symptoms may have been a nervous reaction to a stressful situation and the ensuing evacuation.
The Muelligen postal center is the largest such center in Switzerland and the only one that handles mail from abroad.
Anthrax, a white powder that can be used in bioterrorism, was sent through the mail in the United States in 2001. The powder caused 22 anthrax infections and five deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.