Rotten durian causes Melbourne university evacuation

  • Published
A woman eats a durian at a department store in Bangkok, Thailand on 26 April 2018Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The rotting durian was found in a library cupboard

More than 500 students and teachers were evacuated from a university in Melbourne, Australia, as a result of a smell initially suspected to be gas.

But it turned out the "gas" that students smelt at the RMIT's library was a rotting durian that had been left in a cupboard.

The durian is a tropical fruit known for its strong, stinky smell.

Firefighters said the smell had moved through the building via the air conditioning system.

The building has now been reopened, Melbourne's Metropolitan Fire Brigade said in a statement.

'Turpentine and onions'

After staff and students at the university reported a smell they thought to be gas in a library building, they were evacuated by the local police force.

The fire brigade said the building stores potentially dangerous chemicals, triggering an investigation into the source of the smell.

After what the fire brigade described as a "comprehensive search", they discovered that the smell was not a chemical gas but rather that it came from a durian that was going off.

Durians are a prized fruit in South East Asia with a sweet and creamy flesh, but their smell can take some getting used to.

The Smithsonian magazine described it as akin to "turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock".

What is a durian?

Media caption,

As part of our special series "Taste of Asia", Babita Sharma went to the streets of Singapore to find out what all the fuss over durian is about.

  • A durian is a tropical fruit, roughly the size of the coconut
  • It is green and spiky on the outside, however, it has an internal soft flesh
  • It is said to be something of an acquired taste, as it has a pungent smell
  • The food is native to South East Asia and is generally prohibited from hotel rooms and transport across the region

Around the BBC