Packages at Alaska Congressional offices harmless

ANCHORAGE, Alaska Tue Aug 16, 2011 7:48am EDT

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Suspicious packages that turned out to be harmless prompted scares and temporary closures on Monday at the Alaska offices of all three of the state's members of Congress, officials said.

At the office of U.S. Senator Mark Begich, one of the packages was partially opened and white power came out of it, which prompted a staff member to be examined at a local hospital, said Julie Hasquet, the senator's press secretary.

But the FBI later determined the substance was not hazardous and that it came from a man with no hostile intent, who was sending a sample of concrete material to members of the Alaska congressional delegation, Hasquet said.

Aside from the Fairbanks office of Begich, a Democrat, the packages were also sent to Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican, and the Anchorage office of Representative Don Young, a Republican, officials said.

Discovery of the packages prompted closure of the entire Fairbanks federal building, where the senators have offices.

The floor containing Young's Anchorage office, located in a tower in the downtown district, was evacuated and closed for a few hours while hazardous materials workers from the Anchorage Fire Department examined the site, said Lieutenant Dave Parker, Anchorage Police Department spokesman.

(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Jerry Norton)

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