Belgian police in manhunt for Thai bird smuggler

25th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

25 October 2004, BRUSSELS – Belgian authorities are trying to track down a Thai man who tried to smuggle a pair of bird flu-infected Asian eagles from Thailand into Belgium last week, it was reported Monday.

25 October 2004

BRUSSELS – Belgian authorities are trying to track down a Thai man who tried to smuggle a pair of bird flu-infected Asian eagles from Thailand into Belgium last week, it was reported Monday.

The Thai national had been apprehended at Zaventem airport outside Brussels after authorities discovered that he had the two crested hawk eagles hidden inside his hand luggage.

The man apparently had transported the creatures from Bangkok via Vienna to Brussels.

Authorities put down the birds after discovering they were infected with avian flu, which has killed more than 30 people in Thailand and
Vietnam.

The man had been let go, however, after questioning, as authorities did not discover the birds were infected until after his release.

The birds were discovered by the customs authority at Zaventem on 18 October.

They never left the quarantine area at the airport and reportedly did not pose any threat to European poultry.

Meanwhile, Belgian authorities have asked the European Commission to help them in their search for flight passengers of different nationalities who may have been unknowingly exposed to the virus.

Passengers who travelled on 17-18 October from Bangkok to Vienna with EVA Airways flight no. BR 0061 (arriving in Vienna on 18 October) and passengers who travelled on 18 October from Vienna to Brussels with Austrian Airlines No. 0S351 are advised to see their doctor if they have any flu symptoms such as nausea, fever and cold.

Although the risk of transmission from the animals to humans is limited, it cannot be excluded since the birds travelled in the passenger cabin in hand luggage,  according to a press release put out by the Commission Monday.

The EU's executive arm said it supports Belgian authorities' efforts to identify the passengers to limit any risks for those exposed but also to limit any possible introduction of the avian flu virus into Europe.

Avian flu has not been diagnosed anywhere in Europe since the outbreak in Asia, according to the Commission.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject : Belgian news

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