Bird deaths trigger health alert in Peru

The Peruvian government has declared a health alert along the country's northern coast and urged people to avoid long stretches of beach, as it investigates the mysterious deaths of hundreds of dolphins and pelicans.

At least 1,200 birds, most of them pelicans, have washed up dead on beaches in recent weeks, after an estimated 800 dolphins died in the same area in recent months. The health ministry advised people to avoid beaches but stopped short of imposing a ban. It urged health officials to use gloves, masks and other protective gear when collecting dead birds.

The peak tourism season on Lima's beaches is over, but surfers are still venturing into the sea.

The agriculture ministry said tests on dead pelicans pointed to malnourishment. It said experts had ruled out bird flu.