Twelve people were sickened at an Internal Revenue Service building in Kansas City on Friday after coming in contact with a mysterious package that emitted a foul ammonia-like smell.
People complained of chest pains, vomiting, and sweating. Television footage shows emergency crews rolling people on stretchers toward ambulances. Other workers were seen on a nearby lawn holding their chests.
As of Friday evening, authorities had isolated the suspicious 8-by-12 inch envelope in a room, but had not yet opened it. Police are trying to figure out how to proceed, according to FOX4.
Four people were hospitalized and eight more were treated on the scene.
“We are inside the building. We have the box isolated, so we have the box away from everybody else,” said James Garrett with the Kansas City, Mo., Fire Department.
“It’s in a room where it’s isolated. We have that part of it done. We haven’t gotten to exactly what the substance is yet.”
The box does not have any substance or powder on the outside. When it arrived at the room in the building, 10 people were present, Garrett said.
Throughout the day on Friday, FOX 4 contacted the fire department, Homeland Security, Kansas City police, the FBI, and the IRS. No agency provided clear answers as to what occurred in the building.
Kansas City Police Department said that nothing criminal happened, so they are not investigating.
Homeland Security told the Associated Press that a hazmat team took custody of the package.
One IRS employee said that an internal memo was circulated, but did not provide much detail. The findings were “inconclusive”, the memo stated. The fire department said that it does not investigate suspicious packages and redirected the inquiries back to IRS.
According to an unidentified person who communicated with Fox via Facebook, the incident was triggered by one person vomiting with the rest falling sick at witnessing the scene. That report has not been verified.
The Fire Department did not evacuate the building because the package was quarantined, Garrett said.
“It is a package,” Garrett added. “It is airborne. We don’t have reports of powder or anything like that, so whatever it was, it was by smell and it was airborne.”
The building was back in business two hours later.
St. Lukes Hospital confirmed that they treated and released two people.