The director of Prague Zoo, Petr Fejk, has said he hopes to reopen the upper part of the zoo to the public this coming weekend. Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Fejk said the lower part of the zoo, which was completely underwater during the recent floods, would be opened in stages, but not before next year. Around a dozen large mammals and 80 exotic birds were lost during the floods.
The Czech Prime Minister, Vladimir Spidla, and his Polish counterpart, Leszek Miller, have said referendums in both countries on accession to the European Union should be coordinated. The two men were speaking in Warsaw on Wednesday, on what was Mr Spidla's first official trip abroad since winning elections in June. They stressed that no concrete dates for such referendums had been agreed on. At a recent meeting of the presidents of the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary the idea of 'cascading referendums' was put forward; meaning that votes on joining the EU should be first held in countries where support for such a move is higher, starting with Hungary. Of the four country's, support for EU accession is lowest in the Czech Republic, with around half the electorate in favour.
The Czech Foreign Minister, Cyril Svoboda, has thanked the people of Slovakia for the help they gave the Czech Republic during the recent floods, saying Slovakia was one of the first countries to offer assistance. Mr Svoboda was speaking after talks in Bratislava on Wednesday with senior Slovak politicians, including President Rudolf Schuster and Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda. Czechoslovakia split in two in January 1993.
A message from the Czech President, Vaclav Havel, was read out at the closing ceremony at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in the South African city of Johannesburg on Wednesday. Mr Havel's message stressed global responsibility and called for a restructuralisation of values as well as the restructuralisation of the economy. It was read out by Deputy Prime Minister Petr Mares, the head of the Czech delegation at the summit.
Police said the death toll from the floods rose to seventeen on Saturday, after a man pumping water from his cellar fell unconscious and drowned. A police spokesman said the man was pumping floodwater from his cottage in the southern town of Trebon when he was overcome with petrol fumes and lost consciousness. Around ten people were swept to their deaths by swollen rivers during the floods, the remainder died from heart attacks or accidents during rescue work.
School started on Monday for around 1.5 million Czech school pupils. However, several dozen flood-damaged schools throughout the country remain closed, and many children will not return to their classrooms until mid-September or the beginning of October. The Education Ministry is organising recreational trips in the countryside for children from flood-hit areas.
President Vaclav Havel and his wife Dagmar have visited several villages affected by the recent floods, to see the damage for themselves and offer support. The presidential couple visited villages in the Strakonice, Klatovy and Prague-West areas, bringing with them cleaning equipment, gloves and tools to help the clean-up operation. Mr Havel said the best thing he and members of his staff could offer flood victims was psychological and moral support.
The Czech Embassy in London says people in Britain have donated almost 160,000 pounds, or more than eight million crowns, to a special fund for Czech flood victims. An embassy spokeswoman said there was great interest among the British public in the floods. The British government has donated around 100,000 pounds and special drying equipment, while Prince Charles has also contributed money from his own foundations.
The Foreign Ministers of all fifteen European Union member countries have approved the establishment of a special disaster relief fund. Finances from the fund will be available to both member and candidate countries. The Czech Republic too, is expected to be entitled to resources from the fund, which should help the country in recovering from this year's devastating floods.
Heavy rains on Saturday night have caused local streams to burst their banks in South, East and Central Bohemia. Roads and cellars were flooded in and around the towns of Ceske Budejovice and Cesky Krumlov which had been severely hit by high water earlier this month. In the Krkonose Mountains, East Bohemia, the Upa river rose by two metres within one hour on Saturday night, causing damage worth tens of millions of crowns.
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