The Czech Republic is sending rescue workers and humanitarian aid to the Iranian city of Bam, which was hit by a devastating earthquake on Friday. Fourteen Czech rescue workers and four sniffer dog handlers have already arrived in Iran where they are working as part of an international rescue mission. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said the Czech Republic was sending five million crowns in aid to the region, where the death toll is believed to be as high as 25,000.
A 30-year-old man burned himself to death in the Moravian capital Brno on Christmas Eve. The man, who police said had had an argument with his grandmother, bought a canister of petrol from a filling station and set himself alight in its forecourt. Meanwhile, a 35-year-old man in the north Bohemian town of Liberec was taken to hospital with severe burns after setting himself on fire on St Stephen's Day. Since a young man burned himself to death on Prague's Wenceslas Square in March, there have been several similar incidents in the Czech Republic.
A record number of mobile phone SMS text messages were sent in the Czech Republic on Christmas Eve, mobile operators reported. Some 53.5 million SMS messages were sent, around a quarter more than last year. The biggest volume of messages was sent between nine and eleven o'clock on Wednesday morning, operators said.
Two men who were believed to have drowned after falling through ice on Brno reservoir were found alive and well in a local pub on Friday. Some thirty rescue workers, police divers and fire officers had been searching for the two, who witnesses reported seeing falling through the ice. The men had managed to pull themselves out and went to the pub to recover from their ordeal.
Almost 70 hardy swimmers braved the icy waters of the Vltava River in Prague on Friday for their annual St Stephen's Day swim. The oldest of the swimmers was 90-year-old Ladislav Nicek from Liberec, who was taking part in the event for the 54th time. The swimmers followed two courses, one of 100 and one of 300 metres, from Slovansky Island in front of the National Theatre. The water was reportedly 0 degrees Celsius, while the air temperature was 2.5 degrees.
Saturday should remain bright in many parts of the country, with a maximum temperature of 7 degrees Celsius. Sunday should be partially cloudy, again with a maximum temperature of 7 degrees Celsius.
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