Daily news summary News

01-04-2006

Still more evacuated as rivers rise: dozens of municipalities remain on highest flood alert

Dozens of municipalities around the Czech Republic have remained on highest alert as rain and melting snow have continued to dangerously swell rivers throughout parts of the country. At around midnight on Friday around 2,000 people were ordered to evacuate parts of the town of Olomouc in Moravia at risk from flooding from the Morava River, now risen to four times its normal level. Some inhabitants reportedly refused, but will be forced out if need be, a city spokesman has said. Nearby Litovel could also be affected.

Throughout the country soldiers and emergency crews have been busy reinforcing river banks and securing flood defences. Other areas hit by flooding include southern Moravia's Znojmo region on the Dyje River, and the north Bohemian city of Usti nad Labem. In the regions more than 10,000 people have already been evacuated and further evacuations are likely.

A central crisis committee meeting has also been called - and the Cabinet will meet on Sunday to discuss additional steps.

Melnik critical, Prague to decide on highest alert

In other parts of Bohemia, the situation near Melnik, just 30 kilometres from Prague remains critical, with the Elbe continuing to rise. Parts of the town are now flanked by water that has broken the banks.

But, in the Czech capital, Prague, the situation remains more optimistic, although the flood commission will meet on Saturday to decide further steps: namely whether or not to call the highest alert, based on increasing water levels. Under the so-called 3rd degree, a number of the city's metro stations would be closed off. Parts of the Prague metro were badly damaged in floods in 2002, taking roughly a year to repair.

Floods claim fifth victim

Five people have now died as a result of the floods or flood-related accidents: the latest case being a 55 year-old man found dead on the Morava River. The man - reportedly homeless - is believed to have drowned in flood waters. An autopsy will be conducted.

Fifth case of bird flu found

The bird flu virus has been confirmed in a fifth dead swan that was found in the south Bohemian region of Ceske Budejovice. The news was released by Josef Duben, spokesman for the State Veterinary Administration. A sample will be sent for testing to the European Union's Reference Laboratory in Weybridge, Britain, to confirm whether or not the flu is the deadly H5N1 strain - dangerous for human beings. Tests on one dead swan - the first case in the Czech Republic, found in Hluboka nad Vltavou, south Bohemia - confirmed the presence of the pathogenic virus. Other samples from dead swans confirmed H5.

State prosecutors: increased chance Viktor Kozeny could be tried in Czech Rep

A delegation of state prosecutors, returning from the Bahamas on Saturday, maintains that chances have increased that former financier Viktor Kozeny could face trial in Prague. The businessman - who has been remanded in custody in a Bahamian cell since October 5th last year, is also wanted by authorities in the US, for alleged corruption and money laundering in oil privatisation deals in Azerbaijan. The Czech Republic would like to see Mr Kozeny face trail here for the alleged defrauding of investors in the mid 1990s.

Agrarian Chamber president warns Visegrad Four farmers increasingly dependent on subsidies

Jan Veleba - the president of that Czech Agrarian Chamber - has warned that farmers in the Visegrad Four, that is the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, are growing increasingly dependent on EU subsidies as sales revenues have decreased. Mr Veleba made the announcement after a Visegrad meeting on Saturday. He pointed out that farmers want to turn around the decline in production and push for a change in rules in the use of agricultural products in the energy industry. There, they would like to see an increase of revenues from bioethanol, biooil and biogas. According to Mr Veleba, the chamber is planning on holding a summit of non-government agrarian organisations from new EU countries in the fall. Visegrad Four representatives, meanwhile, are to meet again in July.

Two die in plane crash

Two people were killed on Saturday when their ultra-light plane crashed in the Tabor region. The plane crashed during landing manoeuvres at a local airfield, with the plane going off course and crashing in a nearby forest. An inspection team is investigating circumstances behind the accident.

Ice hockey: Czechs key in Columbus win

In NHL hockey on Friday Czechs were instrumental in the Columbus Bluejackets' win over the St Louis Blues. Jaroslav Balastik scored while David Vyborny and Jan Hrdina both notched up assists. The Bluejackets are currently 13th in the Western Conference, well out of play-off contention, as are the Blues in 15th.

Kenyan runners win Prague half-marathon

Kenyan runners on Saturday won in both the men and women's races in the Prague half-marathon. Stephen Kibiwott finished with a time of 1:01:15, just 8 seconds off the record, while Caroline Kwambai - the women's favourite - edged her nearest rival by 3 seconds. The best Czech finish of the day came in the men's half-marathon: Pavel Faschingbauer finished fifth, more than five minutes off the Kenyan leader.

Weather

Sunday is expected to see light rain and some thundershowers in places although meteorologists and other specialists suggest that the situation on a number of Czech rivers could improve somewhat. Temperatures throughout the day are expected to reach as high as 16 degrees Celsius.

01-04-2006