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Church officials in Italy have apologised to a family after local priest Michael Mariotto left early when the funeral cars got stuck in a traffic jam in the northern town of Rovigo.

Mourners were left standing in the street outside the cemetery without the priest and had to wait hours for a replacement priest to be organised to complete the service.

A church spokesman said the priest had a big parish with other commitments and when the funeral cars did not arrive on time and the mourners had decided to walk, he realised he wouldn't make it – and so he had been forced to continue with his other engagements.

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