Garbage crisis triggers clashes in Naples
Angry Neapolitans blocked railway tracks, hurled stones at police and overturned vehicles on Saturday to protest against plans to reopen a waste dump to deal with the city's long-running refuse crisis.
Naples has for years struggled with mounds of rubbish piling up on its streets due to mismanagement, corruption and mafia involvement, while its waste dumps also fill up.
Authorities are trying to reopen an old landfill in the southern Italian city's outskirts that was shut in 1996.
Residents fear this will harm their health and about 150 people blocked the entrance to the dump to prevent trucks carrying building materials from entering. They were finally allowed through after police intervened.
Demonstrators -- who began protests earlier this week -- also overturned small three-wheeled vehicles while others threw stones at police. Television pictures showed policemen charging protesters with batons.
Two people were slightly injured, police said.
Another group of demonstrators stood on railway tracks in the city's outskirts, forcing some trains to take alternative routes, police said.
Residents have been setting piles of garbage on the streets ablaze and firemen had to put out more than 80 of the fires overnight and another 40 during the day, fire authorities said.
Garbage trucks have not picked up trash in the outskirts of Naples for about two weeks and on Saturday rubbish began to pile up in some neighborhoods in the city's centre as well.
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, who has blamed extremists for fomenting opposition against the reopening of the dump, on Saturday promised a meeting with ministers on Monday to deal with the crisis.
"The government takes all the responsibility for this emergency, because it puts the nation at risk," Prodi told reporters in Bologna. "It is an emergency we must win quickly." ( Reuters )