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    Expert doubts bird flu pandemic in East Siberia

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    A leading ornithologist in Siberia cast doubt Monday over a possible bird flu pandemic in the region after hundreds of wild fowl carcasses were destroyed.

    KRASNOYARSK, June 26 (RIA Novosti) - A leading ornithologist in Siberia cast doubt Monday over a possible bird flu pandemic in the region after hundreds of wild fowl carcasses were destroyed.

    A total of 1,622 bodies of wild geese, as well as more than 50 dead fish, found on the shores of Lake Ubsu-Nur in the Republic of Tuva on the Russian-Mongolian border had been incinerated by Monday.

    After preliminary tests, local virologists suggested bird flu had caused the mass bird deaths in the last week, but Vladimir Zabelin, a leading local ornithologist, said contamination of a river flowing into the lake could have been to blame.

    "[The deaths] could have been the result of toxic waste being dumped into the Tes-Khem River," he said.

    The expert said the fish started dying first, apparently contaminating the birds through the food chain.

    The final results will be known by June 29, when a Vladimir-based research institute in central Russia finalizes the analysis of blood samples from dead birds.

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