Postal hub evacuated in mystery powder alert

A mysterious powder that spurred the evacuation of Switzerland's largest postal service centre turned out to be harmless starch, police in the canton of Zurich said on Wednesday.

Postal hub evacuated in mystery powder alert
Photo: Swiss Post

Some 220 people were evacuated from the building in the Schlieren district north of Zurich late Tuesday after workers at the facility complained that
white powder found in two letters had made them ill.

In all, 34 people were sent to hospital, but by Wednesday they had all been released, the ATS news agency reported.

Doctors who arrived on the scene found that a number of people were showing symptoms of poisoning, including headaches, vomiting and respiratory difficulties.

When questioned by ATS, Roland Portmann of the Zurich police rescue services could not explain how harmless starch could have provoked such
symptoms, but suggested there may have been a nervous reaction to the stressful situation and evacuation.

The Mülligen postal centre, where the incident occurred, is the biggest in the country, and the only one to handle mail from abroad.

The evacuation remained in effect for about three hours on Tuesday evening, but by midnight police allowed employees back in to continue working.

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Swiss rail to close ticket counters in Zurich, Bern, Vaud, Ticino and Zug

Switzerland’s Federal Railways (SBB) will be removing the ticket counter from nine stations in the cantons of Zurich, Vaud, Bern, Zug and Ticino

Swiss rail to close ticket counters in Zurich, Bern, Vaud, Ticino and Zug

The SBB made the announcement on Wednesday, saying the decision was made due to a lack of demand. 

Instead, commuters will need to buy tickets from automated machines. 

In the canton of Zurich, the ticket stations in Dietlikon, Hinwil, Kloten, Männedorf and Oberwinterthur will be closed. 

In neighbouring Zug, Cham’s ticket counter will be closed, while the Herzogenbuchsee station in Bern will also go fully automated. 

MAPS: The best commuter towns when working in Zurich

In Latin Switzerland, Pully in Vaud and Biasca in Ticino will see their ticket counters closed. 

The SBB told Swiss news outlet Watson that approximately 95 percent of ticket sales are now made via self-service machines or online. 

The advent of navigation apps has meant the need for personal advice on directions and travel has fallen, particularly in smaller areas or stations with lower traffic.