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An Italian truck drivers strike could seriously affect U.S. personnel serving in Italy — from gas stations that are running dry at the pumps to major traffic jams and delays in delivery of groceries.

On Monday, the truck drivers began a five-day strike to protest high fuel costs, halting deliveries of key commercial goods — such as fuel — and protesting along highways. The protests led to massive traffic tie-ups, according to Italian news reports.

But late Tuesday, the Transport Ministry ordered an end to the strike, and ordered truckers back to work by midnight citing “the fundamental rights of citizens,” the Apcom news agency reported. New talks were set for Dec. 20.

The strike affected traffic around the Capodichino and support site bases, and Navy officials warned base personnel late Tuesday about possible heavy traffic.

Already by Tuesday morning, 60 percent of gas stations throughout the country reported having no fuel, according to the AGI news service. There are no gas stations on military bases in Italy for personal use by U.S. and NATO servicemembers and their families.

The strike is slated to affect U.S. and NATO personnel serving in Italy in other ways, too, such as creating shortages of home heating gas, delays of mail trucks and household goods pick-up and deliveries, as well as delays in exchange and commissary deliveries and aircraft fuel deliveries, according to an e-mail alert sent out by U.S. Navy personnel in Naples.

The truckers on Monday blocked several key highways throughout Italy, causing major rush-hour traffic tie-ups, according to Italian media reports.

Italy’s highway department provides an automated highway and traffic update telephone service in English for areas affected by traffic. The number is 06-4363-2121. While updated throughout the day, the service relays information only when a particular section of a highway experiences delays or traffic jams.

The Italian government and union workers are in heated negotiations, the ANSA news service reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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