White powder causes scare in Manhattan

Seventy-five people were evacuated from a midtown Manhattan health insurers' offices on Thursday after an envelope containing a suspicious white powder was found, echoing a similar event at the building from one year ago.

DNAInfo.com reports that the third floor of 441 Ninth Ave., the offices of Emblem Health, were evacuated just before noon after a mail room staffer came into contact with the powder.

One patient was decontaminated by Haz-Mat before being transported to Bellevue Hospital in good condition, a fire department spokesman told DNAInfo.com. The spokesman added that the 75 people evacuated from the building did not come into contact with the substance.

The woman taken to the hospital was identified as Madeleine Sierra, DNAInfo.com reports.

Emblem Health spokeswoman Ilene Margolin said that the white powder was found to be harmless and that employees were cleared to re-enter the building two hours after they were evacuated.

The same floor was evacuated at this time last year, employees told DNAInfo.com, after a similar envelope filled with white powder was found. No information was given about who sent that envelope.

“This has happened before,” Willie Fiallo, a chief steward for Local Union 153, OPIU, told DNAInfo.com. “I don’t know if this is anthrax or not, but it’s not a joke, it’s dangerous, if it is."