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NTL staff in ‘white powder’ scare

False alarm

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Ten NTL workers from Guildford were rushed to hospital yesterday following the discovery of unidentified white powder in a package.

Emergency services - along with CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear)-trained officers - attended the scene before cordoning off the cableco's offices.

Staff who came in contact with the mysterious substance were taken to the decontamination unit at Royal Surrey County Hospital.

According to one eyewitness, officers were walking around in protective chemical suits. "The whole area was blocked off - it was like a scene from a TV drama," he told The Register.

However, late in the day police began to wind down the operation after arresting a man for possession of controlled drugs.

Emergency services were called at 9.40 am Tuesday morning by staff at NTL offices in Guildford.

A package was picked up by a member of staff who thought it contained TV equipment. When the box was opened it was found to contain an "unidentified white powder".

"NTL staff were concerned what the powder might be and alerted the emergency services," said police.

"Ten members of staff who came into contact with the substance have been taken to the Royal Surrey County Hospital for decontamination but do not appear to have suffered any ill effects," said a spokesman.

Police took every precaution but stressed that they had no evidence to suggest that the incident was "terrorist related".

"Following the incident at NTL offices in Guildford this morning in which an unidentified white powder was found in a box, a 27-year-old man from Guildford has now been arrested for possession of controlled drugs. He is currently in custody at Guildford police station.

"The incident is now in the process of being stood down and the cordons are now being lifted. There have been no injuries during the incident," the police statement said. ®

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