Chile's government is issuing a health alert for the port of Valparaiso, where thousands of tons of rubbish have been piling up for nearly three weeks amid a strike by refuse collectors.
Health minister Jaime Manalich said the measure was to protect residents from a strike "that carries huge health risks".
The work stoppage began on Oct. 16, and the government began negotiations two weeks later. By that time, the snaking streets and steep hills of Valparaiso had become clogged with trash.
The strike has spread and is now reaching most of Chile's districts.
Workers are demanding a pay rise but the government says it can only come to an agreement after the 2014 budget is approved and November 17 presidential elections held.