An Australian university was evacuated when a pungent fruit was mistaken for a gas leak

The pungent smell of rotting durian was mistaken for a gas leak at an Australian university. NICHOLAS YEO/AFP/Getty Images
  • An Australian university library was evacuated on Saturday over a suspected gas leak that turned out to be the smell of a rotting durian.
  • 500 people were evacuated after the pungent smell travelled through the air-conditioning system.
  • Durian is the world’s smelliest fruit and is banned in taxis and hotels throughout Asia.

An Australian university library was evacuated after a rotting fruit was mistaken for a gas leak.

Firefighters arrived at the campus of RMIT in Melbourne’s CBD around 3 p.m. on Saturday after receiving a call about a suspected gas leak. As a precautionary measure, police evacuated approximately 500 students and teachers.

In a statement entitled “Rotten afternoon on campus,” the Metropolitan Fire Brigade described how it conducted a “comprehensive search,” eventually discovering the smell was not a chemical gas but rather the gas emitted from a rotting durian fruit.

The spiky fruit, which has an incredibly pungent smell, had been left rotting in a cupboard, according to the statement. The smell travelled through the building’s air-conditioning system.

The custardy flesh inside a durian is an acquired taste, with a sweet flavour to some eaters that others find completely unpalatable.

Anthony Bourdain reportedly once said the fruit’s flavour is “indescribable, something you will either love or despise … Your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother.”

As one of the world’s smelliest fruits, durian is forbidden in many taxis and hotels throughout Asia. Singapore’s public transport system has banned the fruit entirely.