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Romania: Coal Miners Continue March To Bucharest

Petrosani, Romania; 18 January 1999 (RFE/RL) - Several thousand striking Romanian coal miners are continuing their march to Bucharest from the coal-mining town of Petrosani despite government warnings. RFE/RL's correspondent on the scene reports that around 4,000 miners have crossed two of four barricades erected by government troops between Petrosani and the next largest town, Targa Jiu. In a further move to stop the miners, the Transportation Ministry has also cancelled all trains to the region.

Strike leader Miron Cozma said that, if necessary, the miners will walk all the way to Bucharest -- a distance of about 250 kilometers.

Romanian President Emil Constantinescu has told strikers to keep away from the capital. Similar protests in 1990-91 turned violent and led to several deaths.

The miners have been on strike for 15 days. They want a 35 percent wage increase and the cancellation of plans to close two unprofitable mines.