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Last Updated: Monday, 28 June, 2004, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Fourth day of Italy rail chaos
Passengers waiting at the Garibaldi station in Naples
The row has left thousands stranded
Rail travel in southern Italy has been paralysed for a fourth day as people occupy the tracks to protest against the opening of a rubbish dump nearby.

Demonstrators have been blocking the main line south of Naples since Friday.

Dozens of trains have been cancelled and thousands of travellers have been left stranded on trains or in stations.

Rubbish dumps in the region are overflowing but locals are against plans to re-open a landfill site to cope with the emergency.

A compromise plan suggested by the government, to temporarily reopen the Montecorvino Rovella dump while new incinerators were built, was rejected by a majority of protesters on Monday.

"The delegation of citizens has strongly rejected the proposal for even a temporary reopening of the dump," a spokesman for the protesters said.

Cancer worries

Emergency teams have been delivering food and water rations to passengers forced to camp out on stranded trains.

Services remained severely disrupted on Monday, despite the efforts of rail authorities to reroute some trains to Calabria and Sicily via Italy's east coast.

The state railway service, Trenitalia, urged travellers heading to and from the south to make alternative plans.

Officials around Naples have struggled for years to cope with mounting heaps of rubbish and too few dumps.

Plans to build incinerators and more rubbish sites have been fiercely resisted by local people and environmentalists who voice concerns over health risks.

The festering problem erupted in March this year when thousands of tons of rubbish were left uncollected on Naples streets for two weeks, prompting authorities to close schools and local markets.

Mafia business

Several hundred locals have now occupied the station in Montecorvino Rovella, about 60km (40 miles) south-east of Naples, angered at the re-opening of a landfill site near their homes.

A spokeswoman for the demonstrators said they were sorry for the chaos but it was the only way to draw attention to the environmental problems.

"People here are dying of cancer, which seems to me more important than a holiday," Rosetta Sproviero was quoted as saying in La Stampa newspaper.

Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi's office said "selfish positions" taken up by single communities were unacceptable.

"Problems of this type must not be transformed into issues of public order," his office said in a statement.

Correspondents say the row is focusing attention on tensions in Italy between the richer north and the underdeveloped south.

The rubbish problem also has more sinister overtones. The national anti-mafia prosecutor warned recently that the Neapolitan mafia, the Camorra, was actively sabotaging plans to build incinerators because it grows rich on running illegal rubbish dumps.

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17 Mar 04  |  Crossing Continents
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10 May 03  |  Europe
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30 Jun 03  |  Leicestershire
A world drowning in litter
04 Mar 02  |  Europe

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