Suspicious Envelope Causes Chaos at U.S. Embassy in Spain

December 25, 2008 Updated: October 1, 2015

Spanish emergency services get ready to enter into the U.S. embassy in Madrid on December after a suspicious package was discovered inside.  (Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP/Getty Images)
Spanish emergency services get ready to enter into the U.S. embassy in Madrid on December after a suspicious package was discovered inside. (Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP/Getty Images)
MADRID—The Spanish National Police Department activated its procedure for nuclear and bacteriological emergencies last week, after the US Embassy in Madrid received an envelope containing a suspicious white powder.

A police perimeter was established around the Embassy for about three hours while medical and police units were mobilized. Traffic was blocked in some nearby streets, resulting in temporary chaos downtown. Some Embassy staff members exposed to the envelope were taken to a medical facility for observation.

The stir turned out to be a false alarm when the powder was discovered to be mere flour. The U.S. State Department published a statement that the envelope was part of a campaign which has extended to Embassies in 14 other European cities. They have also received similar envelopes containing the same innocuous substance, from the same sender in Texas.