A Czech Army special carrying Czech, American, German and Finnish tourists as well as the body of the first Czech victim of the Indian Ocean disaster landed in Prague on Sunday morning. The only confirmed Czech casualty so far was a 24-year-old woman who died in Thailand. The list of Czechs in the region who have not yet contacted their relatives or Czech embassies has shrunk to 40. The Foreign Ministry says six of them are likely to have died in Thailand and Sri Lanka in last Sunday's catastrophe.
The three Czech women who are in Thai hospitals with serious injuries sustained in the disaster are due to return to the Czech Republic, the Czech ambassador to Thailand said on Sunday, adding that their condition allows transport. Beside Czech supermodel Petra Nemcova who suffered a broken pelvis, another woman and a nine-year-old girl with severe cuts are being treated in hospitals in Thailand.
The Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has said that the Czech Republic should coordinate its aid to South Asia with the European Union. According to Mr Gross the current humanitarian aid stage will be followed by a renewal of the devastated areas in which the Czech Republic will take an active part. The government will hold an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday to discuss the forms of immediate relief the Czech Republic is providing to the areas as well as further steps it will take. The Prime Minister also said that the Czech Republic will join the rest of the European Union in a three-minute silence on January 5, in honour of the tens of thousands of victims of the devastating earthquake and tsunami waves.
Czechs have raised over 22 million crowns (733,000 euros) in public collections called by aid organisations to help the disaster-stricken countries in South Asia. The total figure is expected to be much higher as the amounts on some of the accounts will not be known until Monday. The government said it will donate another 5 million crowns on top of the 10 million already pledged for immediate relief.
The former Czech President Vaclav Havel has spoken against a referendum on the European Union Constitution. Speaking in a televised debate on Sunday, Mr Havel said the EU Constitution Treaty was a comprehensive technical text hardly changing the European Union. Mr Havel said once Czech citizens said yes to EU membership, a public vote on the EU Constitution would be superfluous. Czech politicians have not yet decided on the way of ratifying the treaty but it is expected that a referendum will take place. The opposition right-of-centre Civic Democrats as well as President Klaus sharply criticise the EU Constitution.
The beginning of the week here in the Czech Republic should be partly cloudy and windy with scattered showers or snow and daytime temperatures between 4 and 6 degrees Celsius. Tuesday is expected to be overcast and rainy with daytime maximum at 7 degrees Celsius.
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