Daily news summary

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Wind storm Sabine hits Czech Republic

Emergency services, energy providers and fire fighters are dealing with the damage caused by the wind storm Sabine which hit the Czech Republic in the early hours of Monday, with a force of 180 kilometres per hour in the mountain regions. Over 120 thousand households were left without power and energy providers have called a state of emergency in four regions. Fallen trees complicated rail and road traffic in many parts of the country and Prague’s international airport cancelled a number of flights. The storm is expected to subside in the course of the day.

Sabine inflicts considerable damage to country’s forests

According to preliminary estimates the wind storm Sabine damaged around one million cubic metres of forests in state ownership. Lesy ČR, a state- owned company which manages close to half of the country’s forests said that the worst damage was evident in areas where extensive logging had taken place due to bark-beetle infestation.

An accurate damage estimate will only be possible when the wind subsides. Lesy ČR has warned people about the danger of venturing into the country’s forests at the present time.

Growing interest in Czech visas

There is a growing interest in Czech visas, the Czech Foreign Ministry reports, citing a record 813,000 visa applications in 2019. The number represents a 12. 7 percent increase year-on-year.

The overall revenues from visas could thus reach the one billion crown mark for the first time, the ministry says.

In 2018 it collected 771 million crowns in visa-related fees.

The vast majority of applicants, 91 percent, file for a Schengen visa which allows them to move within the Schengen area without restraint. 5.1 percent of these applicants were rejected.

The ministry says fewer travel restrictions are behind the boost, citing a growing number of tourists from China, India, Saudi Arabia and Belorussia.

Philosopher Erazim Kohák dies at 86

Prague-born philosopher Erazim Kohák has died at the age of 86.

Kohák studied and worked in the US for close to four decades after fleeing with his parents to Germany and then the United States at the age of 14. He studied at Colgate University and at Yale University where he received a doctorate in 1958.

In 1960 he joined the Department of Philosophy at Boston University where he was subsequently appointed associate professor and professor.

From 1990 to 1995 Kohák lectured alternately at Boston University and Charles University. In 1995 he returned to the Czech Republic permanently.

In 2013 he received the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk for outstanding contributions to the development of democracy, humanity and human rights from President Zeman.

Unique Celtic head sculpture to be highlight of Olomouc exhibition

One of the most precious items belonging to the National Museum - a Celtic head sculpture dating back to the Iron Age – was transported from the museum’s Terezin depository to Olomouc under heavy security, where it is to be the highlight of a 14-day exhibition of Celtic art.

The male sculpted head from c. 150-50 BC was unearthed in Mšecké Žehrovice, about 65 km northwest of Prague, in 1943.

It is one of the best known works of Celtic art from Iron Age Europe, and, along with the Glauberg "Prince" and the Warrior of Hirschlanden, one of the few large representations of the human figure.

Upon its discovery the sculpture became one of the most photographed art objects ever.

Travel agencies cancelling trips to China

Many Czech travel agencies are cancelling planned trips to China in connection with the coronavirus outbreak, the ctk news agency reported.

The Czech Foreign Ministry has warned Czechs against travelling to China and agencies said that, even prior to this warning, interest in trips to China had dropped by 50 percent.

Clients can either get their money refunded or chose a different destination. Travel agencies say interest in holidaying in other Asian states remains high and the financial losses from the cancellations should not be high.

January unemployment at 3.1 percent

Unemployment in the Czech Republic rose to 3.1 percent in January, up from 2.9 percent in December.

The number of people on the dole rose by 14.490 to 230.000. It is still the lowest January unemployment figure since 1997. Labour offices register just over 341,000 vacancies.

According to labour market experts a rise in the number of unemployed is a typical phenomenon at the start of the year when employers effect lay-offs of people with fixed-term contracts or private entrepreneurs close their businesses.

Weather forecast

Tuesday should be overcast and windy with rain or snow showers and day temperatures between 3 and 7 degrees Celsius.