It is not yet clear whether any Czechs were among the victims of Sunday's tsunami disaster in Southern Asia. Czech travel agencies say they have established contact with all of their clients but hundreds of Czechs are known to have travelled to the region by themselves. The Foreign Ministry has decided to release ten million crowns (over 300,000 euros) from its budget to aid the affected regions. A crisis committee meeting was also held on Monday morning to coordinate help for stranded Czech tourists. The Ministry has also set up a special information hotline for the families of Czechs who are still missing in Southern Asia: +420 22418 1111, +420 22418 2425, +420 22418 2254, +420 22418 2985.
The Czech economy is below EU average but gradually catching up, the Czech Statistical Office said on Monday. 2003 figures show that the country's GDP was 73 percent of that of the EU average. Prague, however, is well above average with 164 percent.
Some 2,000 Ukrainians living in the Czech Republic cast absentee ballots in the repeated second round of Ukraine's presidential election on Sunday. This is a third less than was the case in November. In the Czech Republic, 7,300 Ukrainians were registered to vote but many chose to go to the polls in their homeland instead. Ukraine attempted to elect their president for the third time in two months after November's second round of the election was confirmed rigged and annulled by the Supreme Court. Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych was declared the winner of that vote. Election officials say opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko has won the re-run.
About six kilograms of highly enriched uranium was secretly spirited away from the Czech Republic and taken to a secure site in Russia, the Washington Post reported on Sunday. The nuclear material was moved as part of a U.S.-Czech-Russian and International Atomic Energy Agency mission, the paper says, adding that it puts into focus the US administration's global nuclear non-proliferation agreement to secure vulnerable sites around the world.
School children who experienced the traumatic terrorist attack in September in Beslan, Russia, and were recovering at a Czech spa will be leaving for home this week. The children were on a four-week convalescence stay at the Manes sanatorium in the Bohemian town Karlovy Vary. They will stay in Prague for two days before heading for home on Wednesday. According to the director of the Sanatorium, Svatava Liskova, the stay had a visibly positive effect on the children's psychological state. They are now calm and are learning to come to terms with the traumatic experience.
Czechs sent a record 53.1 million SMS mobile phone text messages on Christmas Eve. This exceeded last year's record by 16 percent, the Czech phone companies reported. Czech Telecom transferred 5.5 million fixed line calls. Added up, it would have been a 31.5 year-long telephone conversation.
Tuesday will have overcast skies with snow in places. Daytime temperatures will range from 0 to 4 degrees Celsius.
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