Timaru office evacuated after threat

A threat has prompted the evacaution of the entire Work and Income Timaru building.

The Community Link building on Beswick St houses offices for Work and Income, ACC, Child Youth and Family, Housing New Zealand and Inland Revenue and is closed for the rest of the day.

An employee who worked in one of the offices said it was ''scary'' because they had been told nothing.

Staff had worked behind closed doors this morning and were then told to pack up and leave.

''We have been told absolutely nothing. Not this morning and not this afternoon," the staff member said.

''We were just told to pack up our desks and leave.''

This afternoon, an ACC spokesman confirmed that ACC staff had been told to leave the building following concerns over the safety of Work and Income staff.

A Work and Income spokesman told The Timaru Herald a threat that ''breached security'' was made against the Timaru office, but he would release no further details on the incident.

After visiting the Work and Income building and speaking with local staff, Timaru police said they were not aware of any threat.

The closure comes after a shooting at the Work and Income office in Ashburton on Monday that resulted in the deaths of Ashburton women Susan Leigh Cleveland and Peggy Turuhira Noble. A third woman, Lindy Louise Curtis, was also shot and remains in a stable condition in Christchurch Hospital with leg injuries.

The accused, Russel John Tully, 48, made his first appearance in the Christchurch District Court this morning on charges of murder and attempted murder. He was remanded to the High Court on September 23. Bail was not sought.

Staff at ACC in Timaru are being offered counselling services.

An ACC spokesman said because Timaru staff worked closely with Work and Income staff, counselling was being provided.

''Counselling is available for those staff who request it ... recognising that our staff in the Timaru office will have colleagues and friends working in the Work and Income office.

''This is being provided through the Employee Assistance Programme and will be provided on an 'as need' basis.''

He said ACC used an external provider for this type of specialised support for staff.

The Timaru Herald