Po­lice seize sub­stance in pow­der scare

The Horowhenua Mail - - FRONT PAGE -

Life in Otaki has re­turned to nor­mal af­ter the town was on alert over a white-pow­der scare on Fri­day but po­lice are still in­ves­ti­gat­ing the ‘‘il­le­gal sub­stance’’.

For a few hours the Main Street was a hive of ac­tiv­ity, as po­lice, de­fence force and emer­gency ser­vices staff took over to safe­guard peo­ple and iden­tify the pow­der, which was later de­clared ‘‘non-lethal’’.

The drama started just af­ter 9am when Trav­els­mart travel agency own­ers Ann and Arthur Marychurch opened a pack­age de­liv­ered to their Otaki busi­ness and found white pow­der inside.

Mo­ments later, two friends, Natalie Allen and Jill Hud­son, walked through the door.

By 11.30am, all four were seated at a park bench across the road from the Main St of­fice, wait­ing to find out what, if any, de­con­tam­i­na­tion process they would need to go through.

No­body was al­lowed to go closer than a few me­tres to the four peo­ple at the bench.

‘‘We re­ceived a pack­age,’’ Arthur Marychurch said. ‘‘We opened it, found a mys­te­ri­ous white pow­der, then called the po­lice.’’

The en­ve­lope was de­liv­ered by nor­mal courier.

Arthur Marychurch said the pow­der had not poured out of the courier pack­age it was sent in, but had been hid­den in an­other pack­age inside.

Ann Marychurch said they had re­ceived a con­tainer of pro­mo­tional sweets from Air New Zealand just the day be­fore.

When the courier dropped off the pack­age con­tain­ing the pow­der on Fri­day, she had as­sumed it was more of the same and said ‘‘oh, more choco­lates’’.

Their friends had left the of­fice and had to be tracked down and asked to re­turn and await the out­come of the tests by emer­gency ser­vices.

Po­lice have con­firmed that the white pow­der was an il­le­gal sub­stance, and are in­ves­ti­gat­ing where the pack­age came from and where it was go­ing, Sergeant Slade Sturmey, Otaki Po­lice said.

Otaki Po­lice re­ceived a phone call from the Otaki Travel Cen­tre at about 9am and they stated that a pack­age had ar­rived and that it con­tained a white sub­stance in a plas­tic bag.

Allen was able to joke about her part in the in­ci­dent.

‘‘I’ve al­ready had a shower to­day.

‘‘And I just had my hair done this morn­ing.’’

JOEL MAXWELL/ FAIR­FAX NZ

White pow­der in an en­ve­lope was de­liv­ered to a travel agent.

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