After a week of severe flooding, most of the swollen rivers in the Czech Republic have either stabilised or begun to recede. Though people have begun returning to their homes in many parts of the country, there are fears of more flooding, with heavy rains expected on Wednesday.
A state of emergency has been declared in seven of the country's 14 regions; it will remain in place until next Monday.
Economists say the damage caused by this year's floods will be considerably lower than that seen in 1997 and 2002, though accurate estimates will have to wait until the flood waters recede completely. The Czech Republic's European commissioner, Vladimir Spidla, has said he will raise the question of possible financial aid from the European Union Solidarity Fund at the Commission.
Some parties have decided to cut back on their election campaign expenditures and donate the money to flood victims. The ruling Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats say they plan to donate a million crowns each. The Communists are to debate the matter on Thursday. The right of centre Civic Democrats have not announced any cuts as yet. Charity organizations have also opened up accounts for public donations.
A seventh case of bird flu has been reported in the Czech Republic. The state veterinary office confirmed on Tuesday that another swan found dead in the Vltava River in south Bohemia was infected with the H5 virus. The first case of H5 appeared ten days ago and the laboratory in Weybridge confirmed that the swan had died of the deadly H5N1 variety. All the other cases of H5 are swans found in the close vicinity. The safety measures introduced include a ban on the transport of live birds, poultry products and eggs, the use of disinfectants and a close monitoring of both the wild-bird population and the small farms and big holdings.
The leader of the Green Party Martin Bursik has demanded an apology from Prague's mayor Pavel Bem for suggesting that Bursik had used his position at the Prague city hall to get a high subsidy for the reconstruction of his Prague flat. Bem told Nova television on Monday that the subsidy granted to Bursik was unusually high and that the short time in which it was granted was not a standard procedure. He said that applying for the subsidy at a time when he was a member of the Prague Town Hall was obviously a conflict of interests. Bursik said this was an attempt to damage him before the elections
Environment Minister Libor Ambrozek has had to cancel a decree that took effect two weeks ago and was intended to curb illegal waste imports from Germany. The decree proved problematic since hundreds of lorries carrying material for recycling could not cross the border because of it, thereby damaging Czech recycling companies. The decree also stipulated that used paper and plastics could only be imported with the ministry's written consent and the ministry was reportedly flooded with applications.
The European Union took legal action against 17 member states including the Czech Republic on Tuesday for failing to follow EU rules that aim to open the 25-nation bloc's gas and electricity markets to more competition. The EU is trying to create a better integrated gas and electricity market so consumers around the bloc can have more freedom to choose what company supplies their energy needs. But problems among member states when transposing the EU rules into national law were hurting those goals, it said.
The Czech Republic's foreign trade surplus shrank to 7.05 billion koruna (248 million euros) in February from 11.24 billion koruna in January, the National Statistics Authority announced Tuesday, citing higher prices paid for imported natural gas and oil. Exports in the machinery and auto sectors were the main factors fuelling the surplus, the CSU said.
The Czech Republic is now the ninth biggest producer of cars in Europe, according to figures compiled by analysts J.D. Power. The country reached the top ten thanks to the building of a large factory in central Bohemia which produces Toyota and Citroen-Peugeot vehicles; it should become a bigger car-making powerhouse with the completion of a Hyundai plant in Moravia.
Wednesday is expected to be partly cloudy with more rain and day temperatures between 4 and 8 degrees Celsius.
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