Czech border police have reinforced patrols on the country's southern border with Austria due to a dramatic increase in the number of illegal migrants. Most of the foreigners were from former Soviet Republics and they attempted several crossings over the Xmas and New Year holidays, most likely assuming that border patrols were reduced at this time. Fifty seven illegal migrants were detained in the last week, all without identity papers.
Nine companies have expressed interest in buying the state's 51 percent stake in the telecommunications company Cesky Telecom. The National Property Fund has said it expects to have preliminary, non binding offers from all interested parties by February 3rd. The sale is expected to raise 50 to 60 billion crowns. The Czech government decided late last year to offer its stake in Cesky Telecom to an investor while retaining the option to sell the shares on the financial markets if no direct sale had been agreed by the end of March.
The Czech government has pledged 15 million crowns for immediate relief
to the tsunami disaster area. Eight million have already been released.
Following a Cabinet session on Tuesday Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda
said the government was prepared to earmark up to 200 million crowns
towards the restoration of the devastated region.
Meanwhile, Czechs have now raised more than 37.5 million crowns (1,233,000 euros) in public collections called by aid organisations.
Collective bargaining at the national railway operator Ceske Drahy has been interrupted indefinitely, following heated disputes over the collective agreement for 2005. The absence of such an agreement means that employees will lose a number of benefits. They will not receive wage supplements, have to work longer hours and have shorter holidays. There is concern that the longer working hours may result in redundancies. The company has a work force of 70,000 people.
A nine year old Czech girl who was seriously injured in the tsunami disaster has been transported to a Czech hospital. The girl suffered serious head injuries in a collision with a boat propeller during the disaster and was operated on in Thailand. Doctors report that her condition is stable. According to the latest information 17 Czechs remain unaccounted for, six are feared dead. The country has one confirmed casualty - a twenty four year old woman. Two Czech women who are still getting treatment in Thai hospitals are expected to return home this week.
New Year's sales in stores around the Czech Republic including a major hypermarket and a well-known furniture outlet have reportedly spurred dramatic shopping sprees in Czech and Moravian cities like Usti nad Labem, Pilsen, Ostrava, and Brno. It has been reported that in some areas, as a result of the shopping, traffic even grinded to a halt. The price drops saw Czechs pack stores to buy electronic and photo items, toys, women's and men's wear, and home appliances.
Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda has announced that Turkey has abolished visa requirement for Czech citizens. As of this month Czechs travelling to Turkey will no longer be required to apply for visas. Turks travelling to the Czech Republic will still require Czech visas but the procedure has been simplified.
Twenty-five Czech nationals remain unaccounted for in South Asian disaster
regions. The number of unaccounted for dropped by 7 on Monday, after two
Czechs in Thailand, and five on Sri Lanka got in touch with authorities.
So far the Czech Republic has had only one casualty confirmed, a
24-year-old woman who died in Thailand. The Foreign Ministry says 7 of the
25 missing are likely to have died in Thailand and Sri Lanka in the tsunami
Three Czech women in Thai hospitals to return home
The Czech ambassador to Thailand has said that three Czech women who are in Thai hospitals with serious injuries since last week are due to return to the Czech Republic in the coming days. The three include Czech supermodel Petra Nemcova who suffered a broken pelvis, one other adult woman and a nine-year-old girl who suffered severe cuts in the tsunami disaster.
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