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Azerbaijan Says No Bird Flu In Southern Region --> (RFE/RL) 6 January 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Azerbaijani health authorities said today that bird flu is not responsible for the recent death of thousands of farm birds in the country's south.

Emin Sahbazov, the deputy head of the Agriculture Ministry's veterinary department, told RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service the massive deaths recorded in the past two weeks in the Masalli region, near the border with Iran, were caused by other diseases that remain to be determined.

"It is not bird flu. But [the dead birds] are being tested for other infections, such as stomach or oesophagus infections," Sahbazov said.

The Ecology Ministry earlier said dead birds were taken for laboratory tests in Baku from the Massali region, near the border with Iran, where the massive deaths of poultry occurred. The results are expected tomorrow.

The government on Thursday said it had temporarily banned food imports from Turkey, where a bird flu outbreak has killed three children in recent days.

(With agencies)