Indian Consulate in Sydney evacuated, staff safe: Govt


World, Neighbours

Building located about 300-400 metres away from where this incident took place

A hostage runs to armed tactical response police officers for safety after she escaped from a cafe under siege at Martin Place in the central business district of Sydney, Australia, Monday, Dec. 15, 2014. New South Wales state police would not say

New Delhi:  The Indian Consulate in Sydney was on Monday evacuated in view of the hostage situation in a cafe near its premises and all the staff members are safe, the External Affairs Ministry said.

"As a preventive measure in accordance with the local requirements, we have evacuated the staff from the Sydney Consulate building because it is located about 300-400 metres away from where this incident took place," Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.

An armed man today took undisclosed number of people hostage at a Cafe in Martin Place in the heart of Sydney's business district.

The Indian Consulate is in touch with local authorities and all the staffers in the consulate are safe, the spokesperson said. "Our Consulate is in touch with local authorities.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has spoken to the High Commissioner who is in touch with local organisations," Akbaruddin said.

"Such incidents are always difficult to handle but we have standard procedures which are in place in such matters. We have also set up a helpline and the Deputy Counsel General is available on +61481453550.

"In case anybody would like to know any information we will be providing that information. At this stage, all we can do is to keep in touch with local authorities and provide information as and when that is provided to us," the spokesperson said.

He said the government is focussed on the issue of safety and security of Indian nationals there.

Martin Place is a public pedestrian thoroughfare through the heart of Sydney, joining its parliamentary, legal and retail districts.