Following Sunday's tsunami disaster, the number of Czechs unaccounted for
in Southeast Asia has fallen from a previous 381 to 263, according to
information from the Czech foreign ministry. The number is still likely to
change. As many as 1,000 Czechs were vacationing or travelling in parts of
Southeast Asia when the deadly tsunamis struck.
Foreign ministry officials believe the majority of those still unaccounted for are safe but unable to contact relatives due to damaged telephone lines and infrastructure. At the same time accidental death can not be ruled out.
Though no Czechs have been reported as having died as a result of Sunday's disaster, the foreign ministry has said it is considering the circumstances of at least eight missing persons' cases as "grave".
Two Czechs who suffered injury have been transferred to hospital in
Bangkok following Sunday's tragedy. A third, supermodel Petra Nemcova,
could not be transferred Wednesday due to the nature of her injures.
The 25-year-old suffered a broken pelvis when the waves hit in
Thailand, and was only rescued after an eight-hour ordeal. She remains
in hospital in Hat Yai and her condition is stable.
Her partner, British photographer Simon Atlee, 33, remains missing.
The Czech government has agreed to send a military plane to provide
humanitarian aid to Thailand, one of the countries badly hit by
Sunday's tsunamis. The plane is scheduled to leave within hours. After
delivering aid, the plane will help Czechs who were vacationing in
Thailand return home.
Meanwhile the Czech carrier CSA is continuing to send daily flights with humanitarian aid to the area, primarily drinking water, packages of medicine and water purification tablets are also to be sent. Experts such as Czech doctors and psychological councillors are also expected to arrive.
The head of the Social Democrats' deputies group, Petr Ibl, has said he will remain in his post for the time being but probably won't run for re-election. Earlier this month Mr Ibl, whose party is the largest in the governing coalition, said he was considering resigning from the post over his "disgust" at disunity within the party ranks. Meanwhile, the Social Democrat chairman, Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, had an informal meeting on Tuesday with President Vaclav Klaus, at which the Czech president signed a bill that will change how funds are distributed to regional governments. Mr Klaus also signed bill relating to waste management and the right to information relating to the environment.
The Czech capital is by far the wealthiest "region" in the 10 new European Union member states, according to data released by the Czech Statistical Office this week. The GDP per capita for Prague last year was 164 percent of the EU average, while for the Czech Republic as a whole it was 73 percent of the EU average. The Olomouc region bordering Poland is the poorest in the country with a GDP per capita equal to about 56 percent of the EU average for the year 2003.
A contingent of Czech soldiers will be dispatched this week to Bosnia-Herzegovina to take part in the European Union peacekeeping force EUFOR. The 47 Czech soldiers will be based in the town of Tuzla for six months and serve alongside Austrian units. In addition to keeping the peace in the ethnically divided former Yugoslav republic, EUFOR soldiers are tasked with working to reduce organised crime.
Several hundred Czechs who were in Southeast Asia at the time of Sunday's massive tsunami are still unaccounted for. The tidal wave, which was triggered by an undersea earthquake, has killed upwards of 38,000 people. Consular staffers in the region have compiled a list of 381 Czech nationals whose whereabouts remain unknown. At least five Czechs were hospitalized in Thailand but no reports of fatalities have been reported. Among the injured was the Czech supermodel Petra Nemcova, a 2003 cover girl for Sports Illustrated magazine's swimsuit edition, who suffered a broken pelvis. Her photographer boyfriend was swept out to sea and is still missing.
A spokesman in Washington for the U.S. government funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has confirmed that the radio is considering four possible sites for its future headquarters. RFE/RL is currently headquartered at the top of Prague's Wenceslas Square. The current site is considered too vulnerable to terrorist attack and the broadcaster is expected to move to a more remote site in Prague.