Aug 30, 2006 at 10:31am IST

It's crowded six feet under!

Tirana: Tirana residents are trying to put off dying until the government and city officials end their row over space shortages in the Albanian capital's graveyards.

Tirana municipality has shut down one of the city's two cemeteries and said the other has space for only one more week.

It blames the government for holding up the expropriation of nearby land that would add space for two years' worth of graves.

WAITING TO DIE: Most Albanians see black humour in the situation. (Photo: Reuters) (Reuters)

"Death rites for a cemetery" and "Now starts the trading of the graves" ran the headlines in Albanian dailies alongside pictures of new graves dug in the lanes between old ones.

The Democratic Party government has had many run-ins with Tirana municipality, controlled by the opposition Socialists, including both the graveyard problem and the municipality's refusal to issue birth and death certificates because it has not received the proper forms.

"Albanians nowadays are facing a wondrous dilemma: they can't prove they're alive, and they don't dare die," Korrieri Daily's editor, Elton Metaj, wrote in a commentary.

Most Albanians see black humour in the situation.

"Could you spare some space for me?" an old lady asks the gravediggers in one popular joke. "Of course, just don't be too late," they answer.