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 former World War II concentration camp at Terezin near Litomerice in Central Bohemia will reopen for visitors on Monday. The site of the memorial as well as the town of Terezin itself were badly hit during the recent flood and the memorial alone suffered damage estimated at 60,000,000 crowns (2,000,000 US dollars). As of Monday, visitors will be able to see the Jewish cemetery and crematorium, the Small Fortress, the Ghetto Museum and other monuments. Between 1940 and 1945, more than 200,000 people were deported to the camp, known in German as Theresienstadt. Some 32,000 people died at Terezin, while 100,000 inmates were later killed at other concentration camps. In 1947 the government of Czechoslovakia decided to preserve the site and turn in into a memorial.
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.
Clean-up work has started at the Spolana chemical plant north of Prague which was severely affected by the recent flood. On Saturday morning specialists at the plant finished removing the rest of dangerous chlorine gas stored in partially submerged tanks and on Sunday the Spolana staff started cleaning up the site and preparing the plant for normal operation expected to start at the end of October. The flooding at Spolana caused leakages of several chemical substances both into the air and water, the most dangerous being the leaks of chlorine. Last week, the government intervened after a second leak of chlorine into the air, and the factory's director was sacked.
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.
The state of emergency, which was put into force in five regions of the Czech Republic during the recent floods, will be called off on Saturday at midnight local time. In the surroundings of the towns of Decin and Litomerice and also in some parts of Prague, the state of emergency will be replaced by a state of alert. The state of emergency was first declared by Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla on the 12th of August when in a public address on Czech Radio, Mr Spidla stated that the danger caused by heavy floods in Prague, Central Bohemia, South Bohemia, and the Plzen and Karlovy Vary regions was severe enough to threaten the property, health, and lives of citizens.
The Czech Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik has said the Czech Republic is discussing the securing of its aerospace with other NATO members. Owing to the recent floods, the government had to abandon plans to buy two dozen supersonic jet fighters for the Czech air force. Speaking at an air show in the city of Hradec Kralove on Saturday, Mr Tvrdik said that by mid-September he would put forward alternatives to the original plan to buy 24 Gripen fighters from the British-Swedish consortium BAE Systems/Saab. Mr Tvrdik said the options were to buy fewer aircraft, lease them or work in cooperation with other NATO member-countries.