Daily Archives: May 5, 2012
LIMA | Sat May 5, 2012 7:30pm EDT
(Reuters) – Peru‘s government declared a health alert along its northern coastline on Saturday and urged residents and tourists alike to stay away from long stretches of beach, as it investigates the unexplained deaths of hundreds of dolphins and pelicans.
At least 1,200 birds, mostly pelicans, washed up dead along a stretch of Peru’s northern Pacific coastline in recent weeks, health officials said, after an estimated 800 dolphins died in the same area in recent months.
The Health Ministry recommended staying away from beaches, though stopped short of a ban, and called on health officials to use gloves, masks and other protective gear when collecting dead birds.
The peak tourism season around Lima‘s beaches is over, though many surfers are still venturing into the waters near the capital.
The Agriculture Ministry said preliminary tests on some dead pelicans pointed to malnourishment. Oscar Dominguez, head of the ministry’s health department, said experts had ruled out bird flu.
“The Health Ministry … calls on the population to abstain from going to the beaches until the health alert is lifted,” the ministry said in a statement posted on its website, along with a photograph of a dead pelican.
The ministry said officials had so far checked 18 beaches in and around Lima for dead birds, but gave no details on any findings.
A mass pelican death along Peru’s northern coast in 1997 was blamed at the time on a shortage of feeder anchovies due to the El Nino phenomenon.
- Over 1200 Dead Pelicans in Northern Peru, Same Region as Mass Dolphin Die-Off (pakalertpress.com)
- Mystery As Hundreds Of Pelicans Die In Peru (news.sky.com)
- Dead Dolphins and Now Hundreds of Dead Pelicans in Peru (hispanicallyspeakingnews.com)
- Peru investigates mystery pelican deaths (edition.cnn.com)
Nine bodies were spotted at about 1:00 a.m. hanging from an overpass at a major intersection, a source in the Tamaulipas state Attorney General’s Office said.
The five men and four women had their eyes covered and bore signs of torture, a municipal official said.
Accompanying the bodies was a message from the Los Zetas gang identifying the victims as employees of the rival Gulf drug cartel killed for “heating up the territory” by carrying out violent acts that attracted more attention from the security forces.
The message from the Zetas accused the victims of involvement in an April 24 grenade attack on municipal police headquarters in Nuevo Laredo, just across the border from Laredo, Texas.
Just hours later, the dismembered remains of 14 people were found wrapped in plastic bags inside a van abandoned in front of the Mexican customs service office in the city.
The victims’ severed heads were left in coolers near Nuevo Laredo city hall.
The killers did not leave any message.
Los Zetas, a group founded by deserters from a U.S.-trained special forces unit, started out as the armed wing of the Gulf cartel, but the two criminal organizations later had a falling out and the Zetas went into the drug business on their own account, gaining control of several lucrative territories.
Media reports say the Sinaloa and Gulf cartels have formed an alliance to fight Los Zetas, but this has not been confirmed by Mexican officials.
Fourteen dismembered bodies found April 17 in a vehicle parked near city hall were accompanied by a message bearing the purported signature of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, fugitive boss of the Sinaloa cartel.
The note said the Sinaloa outfit had come to Nuevo Laredo to cleanse the city of the Zetas.
Conflict among rival cartels and between criminals and the security forces has claimed more than 50,000 lives in Mexico since December 2006, when newly inaugurated President Felipe Calderon militarized the struggle against organized crime. EFE