Heavy snow and high winds have been causing problems across the Czech Republic. Over two thousand households in the Olomouc region in the easternmost part of the Czech Republic were left without electricity during the night and morning hours as gale force winds brought down power lines. Power cuts were also reported from other parts of the country. Drivers have been warned not to leave for the country's mountain resorts without winter tires and chains. The Jeseniky mountain rescue service has called a high degree of avalanche alert, warning skiers not to leave marked tourist trails.
The Olomouc town hall was evacuated on Monday after the police received
anonymous bomb threat. Close to three hundred employees and members of the public were sent home and some stores situated close to the town also closed for the day for security reasons. A thorough search of the building revealed no explosives. The police are searching for the anonymous letter writer.
Czech insurance companies say the damage caused by gale-force winds which swept across the country last week should climb to an estimated 1,5 billion Czech crowns. Close to 50, 000 households and three and a half thousand companies have files damage claims to date. The inclement weather in the mountain regions is reportedly slowing down the work of insurance companies in checking out claims but they say there are prepared to meet their obligations fully.
Czech ski jumper Jan Mazoch, who suffered a life-threatening injury at
a World Cup event in Poland last week, has recovered sufficiently to be
transferred home. Anna Niedzwiedzka, a spokeswoman for Krakow
university hospital where Mazoch is receiving treatment, said he would
be flown to Prague on Wednesday, where he will follow a rehabilitation
programme in a local clinic.
Mazoch's state of health is said to have improved by the day. He is now able to speak and has even managed to walk a few steps in his hospital room.
The successful Czech music composer Karel Svoboda has died at the age of 68. It is believed he committed suicide at his home on the outskirts of Prague. Karel Svoboda wrote the music for numerous hit songs and for some years worked closely with the pop star Karel Gott. He also wrote the scores for films, theatre productions, musicals and television serials.
According to Monday's edition of the weekly Euro, if the plan to build a US radar base in the Czech Republic gets the green light, the base will most likely be built by Boeing and should be ready to go into operation in 2011. The Czech Security Council approved the start of official talks on the base between Washington and Prague last week. Experts say the negotiations could take up to a year.
The state of emergency in the country's forests, many of which have been badly damaged by gale-force winds, will end on February 5. Up until then people are banned from entering them in order to give forest workers time to clear fallen trees and fell those which are considered a hazard. A forest worker was killed in the clean-up operation last week.
A poll just released by the CVVM agency suggests that Czechs consider organized crime to be the biggest security threat to their country in the present day. Sixty nine percent of respondents polled put organized crime at the top of the list, followed by international terrorism. However asked what they considered a threat to themselves and their families the vast majority of respondents said a natural disaster or epidemic.
Opponents to the deployment of a US radar base in the Czech Republic took part in a protest event in the centre of Prague on Monday evening despite the fact that it had been banned by Prague city hall. An estimated two thousand people took part in the protest march. Civic groups and associations who organized the protest say that the presence of a US radar base in the Czech Republic would harm the country's security interests and are demanding a referendum on the issue.
The Czech authorities have decided to end the controversial practice of North Koreans working in factories across the country as breadwinners for their authoritarian regime. Tomas Haisman, an interior ministry official responsible for Czech asylum and migration policy, told the AFP news agency that the ministry would not be offering new work permits to North Korean citizens and did not intend to prolong existing ones. Around 400 North Koreans are currently working in the country, mostly as seamstresses. They are kept on a tight leash by government agents and allowed to keep only part of their wages.
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