Veterinary officials slaughtered poultry in a small village in central Russia on Thursday as fears grew that the bird flu could reach Moscow.
Officials put Yandovka, a remote village of 200 residents about 350 kilometers (200 miles) south of the Russian capital, under quarantine after villagers reported the mass illness and deaths of their fowl.
About a dozen police officers were posted to prevent outsiders from entering Yandovka, a ramshackle looking village of wooden houses and silver birches. An acid smell filled the air in the vicinity of the village, where veterinary officials in long green overcoats sprayed a disinfectant on cars and clothing of villagers wanting to leave.
Simon Butrik, a 65-year-old excavator driver from a nearby village who was helping dig holes for the incinerated fowl, said most villagers were cooperating and voluntarily handing over their chickens, ducks and geese for death by lethal injection. The dead birds were put in bags and burned.
"I feel sorry for them. There is an old couple living on the other edge of the village, whose only hope was poultry. There's no work here but poultry, and the birds have been destroyed," he said.
He said that one villager had thrown himself on a veterinary official with an ax in an attempt to keep his poultry.
Sergei Ponomaryov, a regional veterinary official, said about 3,000 chickens, ducks and geese had been registered in Yandovka. About 300 died, 1,500 were destroyed on Wednesday and the rest were to be destroyed by 6 p.m. (1400GMT).
Wild fowl were also being shot on the village outskirts, the ITAR-Tass news agency said. Farmers were being compensated between 100 and 300 rubles (US$3.50-US$10, Ђ3-Ђ8.50) for each bird brought to mobile stations for destruction and disposal of the sick poultry, the news agency said.
However, geese and ducks wandered the streets in surrounding villages.
More than 200,000 people in the Tula region, where Yandovka is located, were given standard flu vaccinations, ITAR-Tass said Wednesday. Such shots are given to prevent normal flu so that, if the person gets infected with the bird virus, there is no human flu strain inside the body to mix with and create a more dangerous hybrid, reports the AP.