Anthrax Scare at American Express HQ

By Jonathan Dienst and Hasani Gittens
|  Thursday, Dec 10, 2009  |  Updated 9:45 PM EDT
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Anthrax Scare at American Express HQ

Three World Financial Center

Employees at the American Express headquarters at 3 World Financial Center downtown had an anthrax scare this afternoon and three floors had to be evacuated.

Several suspicious envelopes containing a "white powdery substance" were discovered in financial giant's offices at 200 Vesey Street sometime before 3 p.m., sources inside of the company told NBCNewYork.com.

AmEx officials immediately contacted authorities, and the building's 39th, 40th, and 51st floors -- where the envelopes were discovered -- were evacuated. The building's heating and air-conditioning system was also turned off, according to an internal memo.

The investigation was still ongoing in the early evening, and officials said it was too soon to tell if there was any toxicity in the malicious missives. Some employees who came in contact with the powder were scrubbed down by hazmat crews.

Later police officials said that seven envelopes in all were sent to various locations in Manhattan, including the JP Morgan headquarters, but there was nothing to indicate they were any real threat. They were all sent from a Maryland, the officials said.

In November, six United Nations missions received envelopes with white powder, spreading fears of anthrax -- but they all turned out to be harmless.

A police department spokesman said Thursday's envelopes seemed to come from a different sender than the ones in November.

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