Powder causes scare at New York Times

October 22, 2008 6:21:09 PM PDT
An employee of The New York Times opened a letter Wednesday containing a white powder that officials later said was harmless. The discovery comes after more than 30 letters containing a suspicious powder were mailed to Chase bank branches and federal banking regulators' offices in nine cities. Officials said those letters, postmarked Amarillo, Texas, also appeared to be harmless.

A law enforcement official said the letter sent to the Times didn't appear to be related to those sent to the financial institutions.

The Times letter did not carry a Texas postmark and contained a different substance, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

The newspaper told employees the powder was found Wednesday morning when an employee opened a letter on the 13th floor of company headquarters in midtown Manhattan. Police were called and said they didn't believe it was harmful.

The law enforcement official also said the Times letter tested negative for dangerous toxins.

The newspaper closed one lobby to the building, but it was reopened by about 6 p.m.

Anthrax-tainted letters were sent to media outlets and offices in 2001. Five people died, and since then, officials have been cautious when suspicious powders are detected.

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