A suspicious red powder contained in a letter erroneously delivered to a Phnom Penh UN office has turned out to be curry powder, officials said Sunday.
Two weeks ago, an administrative assistant retrieved the letter by mistake from a mailbox adjacent to the UN office’s mailbox, said Graham Shaw, an official with the UN Office of Drug Control and Prevention. Rather than return the letter—a standard airmail envelope with a Bombay return address—the assistant opened it. When she noticed a small folded piece of paper containing red powder, customs authorities were called, Shaw said.
Customs authorities determined the case was outside their jurisdiction, and referred it to the narcotics police, who in turn referred it to immigration officials. The envelope finally ended up in the hands of the National Police.
One wire service report over the weekend indicated the envelope was being analyzed at the Pasteur Institute. Officials at the institute declined to comment.
Shaw, however, was glad that the panic had subsided, and was curious about the powder’s whereabouts.
“It looks like some decent Indian curry powder,” Shaw said. “If someone cooks it, make sure they invite us all.”