BEIJING, July 26 -- The mysterious death of at least 300 egrets in a Guangzhou forest park sparked fears that the bird flu was to blame, the South China Morning Post reported Monday.
A party secretary of the park's management firm, the Huangpi company, has dismissed the claims saying he had yet to receive any reports of deaths.
People living near the park in Baiyun District had been finding 20 to 30 dead egrets every day, according to a report by the China News Service, quoting the Guangzhou-based TVS online.
The residents, who said they had discovered the birds in the past few days, estimated the death toll had reached 300.
Some villagers blamed the heat, but others feared it was linked to the bird-flu virus and urged the government to investigate.
The report followed an outbreak of bird flu on an island sanctuary in May that killed thousands of migratory birds in Qinghai. Some 6,000 birds died in the outbreak, officials said.
"What is surprising is that there are people who have started eating egrets, with some being cooked on barbecues," China News Service said. People had also caught the sick birds to sell at markets, the report said.
A bad smell was coming from the dead birds littered across the park.
(Source: Shenzhen Daily/Agencies)