The Czech Republic joined other European countries on Wednesday in a day
of mourning for the victims of the tsunami disaster in South Asia. Flags
flew at half mast, sirens sounded across the country at noon and Czechs
held a three-minute silence to pay respect to the 150,000 dead.
The number of Czechs still unaccounted for has dropped to 16, but there are fears that seven of them have died. Officially only one Czech victim has been confirmed.
Some Czech banks have decided to give up certain service charges on donations to Asia, among them CSOB, Ceska sporitelna, Komercni banka and HVB which manage the accounts of major Czech aid organisations. As a result hundreds of thousands of crowns more will be sent to the affected regions. However, the banks do not plan to cancel fees on charity payments in the future. The Czech government said on Tuesday that the 19-percent VAT deducted from donor SMS messages will also be given to Asia. Mobile phone operators say they will give up their service charge, too.
Following a Cabinet session on Tuesday the Foreign Minister Cyril
Svoboda said the government was prepared to earmark up to 200 million
crowns (6.7 million euros) towards the restoration of the devastated
region. Last week the Czech government pledged 15 million crowns for
immediate relief to the tsunami disaster area. Eight million has
already been released.
By Wednesday Czechs have raised more than 90 million crowns (3 million euros) in individual donations to 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.
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.