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Smelly Durian Mistaken for Gas Leak Causes Building Evacuation

A university in Australia was evacuated after a pungent smell spread throughout the library.
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More than 500 students were evacuated out of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University after a pungent smell spread throughout the library. The smell which was initially feared as a gas leak turned out to be nothing but a rotting durian.

On Saturday, Melbourne's Metropolitan Fire Brigade sent out an alert for a “chemical hazard” after a possible gas leak was detected at RMIT University’s library. Firefighters evacuated students and teachers from the building as a precaution. Following the alert, the Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board released a statement that they “identified the smell was not chemical gas.” They instead pointed to a rotting durian as the source of the pungent smell.

It turns out the spiky fruit was left rotting in a cupboard, and the smell wafted around the building through the airconditioning system. The MFESB ended the statement by saying that the Environment Protection Authority was overseeing the “removal and storage of the waste.”

The durian—though famed for its unique combination of savory, sweet, and creamy taste—is often reviled for its equally famous smell. According to food writer Richard Sterling, durian’s odor is best described as “turpentine, and onions, garnished with a gym sock.” It’s even been banned in hotels, airlines, and several modes of public transportation. In Southeast Asia, the durian is known as the King of Fruit. It’s native to Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia but is popular in both Thailand and the Philippines (where its status as native or non-native has been debated).

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Paolo Chua
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