Letter that sickened 5 at UN mission in Kosovo did not contain anthrax – UN spokesman

6 December 2001

A suspicious letter mailed to the United Nations mission in Kosovo has sickened at least five people but local security officials and doctors believe the toxic white powder it contained was not anthrax and its effects were not life-threatening, a UN spokesman said today.

UN security officers quickly cordoned off the affected area and the building was evacuated after the letter was discovered in the mailroom of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), spokesman Fred Eckhard told a press briefing in New York.

The letter, which was addressed to a UN official and arrived in the diplomatic pouch from New York, was found to contain white powder inside the envelope after a local staff member opened it.

All those believed to have been exposed to the powder were treated at the Pristina Hospital for vomiting and skin rash. "All the affected persons have now left the hospital and are not believed to have suffered any further symptoms from the incident," the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, security officers and members of the regional serious crime unit were investigating the matter, interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence. The substance in the envelope will be analyzed, Mr. Eckhard said.


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