Bird deaths in large numbers were reported from fresh areas in three districts in West Bengal as thousands of chickens were culled for the third day on Friday to curb the spread of bird flu with Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee describing the situation as "very serious."
Burdwan, Bankura and Murshidabad districts, which were previously unaffected, reported deaths of thousands of chickens though bird flu was not, confirmed there, reports from the districts said.
However, officials said samples of the dead birds were sent for testing at Kolkata and if needed would be sent to the High Security Diseases Hospital, Bhopal.
Asked by newsmen how alarming the situation was, the chief minister said it was "very serious".
"We will have to kill four lakh birds in the affected districts. For this, we have decided to increase the strength of the culling teams," he said.
There was some panic in Kolkata when dead crows and owls were found in the southern and eastern parts of the metropolis. Bhattacharjee however described the situation as normal and said there was no cause for people to be worried.
"There is no report of any outbreak of the disease in poultries in Kolkata. However, an alert has been sounded in the city," he said.
Ten thousand chickens have died in Murshidabad since Tuesday while in Burdwan 2000 chickens perished in the last seven days. In Bankura, 400 sick birds were culled on Thursday.
There was no report of people being affected, the chief minister said, but as a precautionary measure, isolation wards were kept ready in all sub-divisional hospitals and medical college hospitals of Burdwan, Bankura and East Midnapore districts alerted.