The Czech minister of defence, Karel Kuhnl, has described as a terrible tragedy Thursday's air crash in which 42 Slovak soldiers died. Mr Kuhnl said the crash was all the sadder for the Czech Republic because the Slovaks had served side by side with Czech soldiers in the United Nations KFOR mission in Kosovo. He also expressed his deepest sympathy to Slovakia's defence minister, Juraj Liska.
Specialists have reported that following a chemical spill releasing
cyanide into the Czech Republic's Labe River (Elbe) last week,
concentration of the toxin in the river's waters has continued to drop.
The latest water samples have shown significantly lower concentrations
of cyanide further along the river, with tests also revealing that high
levels of concentrated cyanide have not made it as far as the Czech
Republic's northern Hrensko and Decin regions. Experts are looking into
the causes of the accident, which took place at the Lucebni Zavody
chemical plant last week.
At least nine tons of fish killed by the cyanide were removed from the Labe's waters. Damages have been estimated at around 2 million crowns, the equivalent of 84,000 dollars US.
Czech figure skater Olga Prokuronova is unhurt following a nasty fall at the European Championships on Wednesday. The Czech pairs champion and Russian-born skater crashed to the ice head-first when her partner, Karel Stefl, lost his balance. Prokuronova lay on the ice for several seconds before being helped to her feet. Hospital tests later confirmed she had suffered no serious injury.
The state-owned insurance company, the VZP - under forced administration - has begun sending medical facilities overdue payments worth 5.3 billion crowns, the equivalent of around 230 million US dollars. The troubled insurer had been paying doctors and facilities up to 50 days late for clients covered by VZP insurance. According to the Health Ministry, the situation should improve with payments reduced to 15 or 16 days. The move comes at a time Czech doctors have been planning protest strikes. On Thursday, the General Practitioners' Association's deputy head Jan Jelinek said that the association would now consider whether or not to end strike alert.
The head of the Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority, Jakub Sebesta, has revealed statistics showing that 18 different supermarket chains and other retailers in the Czech Republic received fines worth a total of 19 million crowns, or 800,000 US dollars in 2005. According to Mr Sebesta, the worst offender was the Ahold group, operating the Albert and Hypernova chains, fined a total of 7.6 million crowns. Ahold was followed by Julius Meinl, at 2 million, and Carrefour at 1.8 million crowns. The most common offences included improper packaging or marking of foodstuffs, as well as perishables being left on the shelf past the due date.
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