While the Asian students would have been delighted when the smell of durian wafted through the air during a hardcore study session, everyone else thought the pungent odour was a “gas leak” and triggered the fire alarm instead.
Within 6 minutes, 550 students and staff fully evacuated the Canberra University library on Friday (10 May).
Emergency team deployed
A crew made up of firefighters and HAZMAT specialists arrived on the scene to assess the situation.
After an hour-long search operation, the firefighters discovered the source of the noxious odour — a humble durian fruit piece. It was left in the trash in a sealed bag, next to an air vent.
A student — likely Asian — probably wanted his working environment to remind him of home.
Additionally, the HAZMAT team didn’t find anything harmful in the air — they didn’t detect the blatant disrespect towards the king of fruits, however.
Canberra University didn’t fail to see the humour in this though as seen in their cheekily added temporary profile picture.
Not the first time
Another Australian university was embroiled in a stinky situation when less than a year ago, the familiar smell of “turpentine and onions” inundated the air of Melbourne university RMIT, causing a similar mass evacuation.
It turned out the prickly fruit was again the culprit.
The demographics of Australian higher learning institutions are getting increasingly skewed towards international students, particularly from durian-loving countries like Singapore, Malaysia, China and Indonesia.
Some say this is merely an effort by cash strapped universities to milk money out of international students. In any case, Australians better start getting used to the smell of durian and fast.