Around 70 thousand people in the towns of Chomutov and Jirkov, north-western Bohemia, have been cut off heating and hot water since Friday midnight due to an accident in the local heating plant. The cause of the problem has not been established yet because the main pipeline is sunk deep in the ground. The outside temperatures hover just above zero. This is the fourth such accident in a month and local inhabitants fear they might spend Christmas without heating.
A 23-year-old Czech tourist missing in bad weather in Australia's Snowy Mountains for four days was found on Saturday and airlifted out of dense bushland. ABC Radio news reported that the woman, identified as Zuzana Stevichova, was in good health, but taken to hospital for a check-up. Police and National Parks officers who found the woman, who had been missing in heavy rain, fog and low cloud cover, said she was very happy to see them.
The eastward expansion of the European Union will prove a boon to flourishing organised crime groups, the European police agency Europol said in its annual report on organised crime. With border controls relaxing as the EU grows from 15 to 25 countries next May, Mafia-style groups will use new member states as bases for trafficking drugs and people. The report said powerful crime networks were getting increasingly sophisticated, moving away from the traditional, hierarchical model seen in Mafia movies and towards a cell-based structure that made it harder for police to find the top bosses. It said there were signs international crime groups were moving their activities to the EU newcomers, which were also becoming focal points for money laundering.
The European Phare programme will contribute almost a million euros for projects focused on the Romany minority. The projects are organised by various non-governmental organisations, and are aimed mainly at integration of the Roma into the society and improving their education, employment and housing situation.
The three Czech mobile phone operators have asked for a postponement of the launch of the number portability service. The IT Minister Vladimir Mlynar wants to introduce number portability as of May 1, to enable people to keep their mobile phone number when changing operator. The move is part of a draft law on electronic communications that the ministry will submitted to the government in January.
And finally, a quick look at the weather. We are expecting a cloudy day with occasional rain showers and snow in higher altitudes. The highest daytime temperatures should range from 5 to 8 degrees Celsius. Meteorologists have warned of gale-force winds on the whole territory of the Czech Republic.
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