An overwhelming smell coming from a suspicious package at a Bavarian post office caused six workers to be taken to hospital and many more to be evacuated – only for police to discover that durian fruit, and not a dangerous gas, was the reason for the panic.
Police and firefighters rushed to the scene in Schweinfurt on Saturday over fears that a parcel was releasing a harmful substance. Twelve postal workers received treatment for nausea, including six who were taken to hospital as a precaution, the German broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk reported.
Officers cleared 60 people from the building, but later determined the package was a delivery of four Thai durian fruits, sent to a 50-year-old resident by his friend in Nuremberg.
The pungent smell of Durian is so strong that the fruit is banned in many hotels, and on public transport across Asia. Last year it prompted the evacuation of a library at the University of Canberra, after “a strong smell of gas” was reported.
Often referred to as the “king of fruit”, Durian’s smell and taste divide opinion. Some say its creamy texture is similar to that of a cheesecake with a hint of almonds. Others draw less flattering comparisons, ranging from unwashed feet to rotten onions.
The fruit, which has grown in popularity among Chinese consumers, is a big earner in Thailand. In 2018, the country produced 600,000 tonnes of durians, mostly for export. The market has so far been unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic.
There are about 200 specially bred durian cultivars, each with differing textures, flavours and smells. The fruit can be eaten on its own or with sticky rice. Durian-flavoured cakes, ice-cream, sweets and even pizzas are also available.
In Schweinfurt, the resident has reportedly now received his package.