Turkey's Agriculture Ministry said on Thursday that 170 birds died of bird flu in southeastern Turkey last week and tests were under way to determine whether it was the H5N1 strain. Authorities said they have quarantined three villages in southeastern Batman province, culling around 1,650 birds since February 5. Turkey was hard hit by bird flu in January 2006, when 12 people were infected and four died of the H5N1 strain. "Right now, a threat of an epidemic is out of question," Nihat Pakdil, deputy undersecretary of the Agriculture Ministry, told private NTV television. Authorities were also culling fowl in the nearby villages of Aydinli and Ruzgarli as a precaution, Pakdil said, and warned people to avoid contact with birds. There were no reports of any human infection in the area.