Daily news summary


Czech Foreign Ministry denies having received a ransom demand for the Czech taken hostage in Libya

The Czech Foreign Ministry says it has not received a ransom demand for the Czech who was taken hostage along with eight other foreign workers in an attack on an oil-field in Libya earlier this month. A ministry spokeswoman said the ministry had not been contacted by any group or individual claiming responsibility for the attack nor had it received a demand for money. The ministry made the statement after the Austrian daily Kronen Zeitung claimed on Monday that Islamic militants had demanded 500,000 US dollars for the Austrian hostage, citing unnamed intelligence sources. The Austrian Foreign Ministry has denied the claim. The Czech foreign minister said earlier that according to Czech and foreign intelligence services the hostages were “with high probability” in the hands of the same group of radicals responsible for the assassination of 21 Egyptian Copts.

Ashya King reported to be cancer-free after proton beam therapy in Prague

Ashya King, the five-year-old British brain cancer patient who underwent proton therapy in Prague last year, is cured of the disease, his parents told the media on Monday. The boy's parents who were arrested in Spain for secretly taking the boy out of a Southampton hospital which did not offer proton therapy, said the decision had saved his life since he was too weak to come through chemotherapy. Ashya who underwent thirty sessions of proton beam therapy is now reported to be cancer-free and recovering well.

Thousands evacuated from Opava housing estate over unexploded munition

Police in the city of Opava are evacuating hundreds, possibly thousands, of people from one of the city’s biggest housing estates after workers accidently came upon exploded munition from the SWW. The city hall’s spokesperson said the find was in the middle of a densely populated housing estate with approximately 16,000 inhabitants. The evacuation operation is expected to last through the night. It is the biggest bomb-related evacuation in the country’s modern history.

Foreign ministers of Visegrad Group and Germany say diplomatic solution must prevail in Ukraine

The foreign ministers of the Visegrad Group states and Germany have stressed the need for a diplomatic solution to prevail in Ukraine. At the meeting in Bratislava, Slovakia, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that while certain progress had been made in fulfilling the conditions of the Minsk peace deal there were still groups violating the ceasefire agreement. All parties involved must avoid actions which could result in a fresh escalation of violence, the German foreign minister stressed. The foreign ministers likewise discussed the EU’s Eastern partnership programme for six post-Soviet bloc countries including Ukraine. Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek noted that in the light of the Ukraine developments this programme has acquired even greater significance.

US convoy evoking mixed reactions

The 120 vehicle strong US military convoy, which is expected to pass through Czech territory at the end of this week is raising emotions on the social networks. Protesters, largely communist party members and sympathisers, plan to demonstrate against the transfer at a gathering on Wenceslas Square on Saturday, while its supporters urge the public to welcome the US troops with Pilsner beer and plan gatherings of their own in a show of solidarity with the undertaking. The convoy, returning from a NATO exercise called Operation Atlantic Resolve in the Baltic states, will travel through six countries to a military base in Germany. It will spend four days in the Czech Republic, taking three separate routes before regrouping in an outer Prague district and heading to Plzeň and the Czech-German border.

Two members of Czech Philharmonic Orchestra remain in hospital following accident

Two members of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra who were badly injured in Sunday’s bus crash near Mistelbach remain hospitalized in Austria, a spokeswoman for the orchestra told the ctk news agency. Their condition is reported to be stable. The other 11 people who were taken to hospital with lighter injuries were released and have now returned to the Czech Republic. The bus carrying 20 members of the philharmonic was on its way back to Prague when it swerved off the road and crashed from a seven-metre slope. The driver had to be rescued by fire fighters using hydraulic equipment. The police have not yet been able to question him due to his health condition and the cause of the accident remains unclear.

Škoda Auto´s Kvasiny industrial zone to get 2 billion from public funds

Škoda Auto’s plans to expand the Solnice-Kvasiny industrial zone have won government support and the car maker can count on a financial injection from the state. Prime Minister Bouslav Sobotka on Monday signed a memorandum with Škoda Auto representatives according to which the project will get about 2 billion crowns from public resources. The money will be used for infrastructure projects in the zone. Škoda itself will invest 7 billion crowns to expand the plant’s capacity. The plant’s expansion is expected create 1,300 new jobs will present more opportunities for regional suppliers.

Czech Republic needs more blood marrow donors

The Czech Republic is said to be in need of more blood marrow donors and the authorities have appealed to members of the public to consider the possibility. According to the health authorities some 2,300 regular donors will have to be crossed off the Czech Register of Blood Marrow Donors due to age or health problems before the end of this year. The age limit for blood marrow donorship is 55 years. Although last year 1,743 new donors signed up, which is the highest number in 11 years, over the next 5 years as many as 6,000 regular donors will have to be crossed off the list. Altogether the register has 50,000 donors.

Population increase due to immigrants

The Czech Republic´s population increased by over 25,000 people in 2014 to 10,538,300 inhabitants, the Czech Statistics Office reported on Monday. The increase, the highest since 2010 was mainly due to the number of immigrants, which was the highest in six years. Migration raised the number of inhabitants by 21,700 people.

Stray dog kills four exotic birds in Brno zoo

A stray dog which found its way into the Brno zoo at night is reported to have killed an ostrich and three other exotic birds. The damage has been estimated at 40,000 crowns. The dog is reported to have dug a hole under the fencing and escaped the same way. The birds were found torn to pieces. The police and a pest control team are working on the case, trying to ascertain if the dog was stray or was left to roam by its owner.

Ten people die on Czech roads over course of tragic weekend

The past weekend was the worst in terms of road fatalities since last September, the Czech News Agency reports. Ten people, most of them between the ages of 18 and 21, lost their lives in accidents, the worst being an early-morning crash on Sunday in the region of Znojmo in which four young people died. In the accident, the driver drove into a ditch before the vehicle hit the concrete part of a small bridge. The car caught fire; witnesses were able to pull the driver from the vehicle to try first aid, but were unable to save his life. The others who perished were two young men and a young woman.

NHL action: forwards Vrbata, Palát show good form in respective team wins

Czech hockey forwards Radim Vrbata and Ondřej Palát confirmed in NHL matches on Sunday that both are in good form: Vrbata, who plays for Vancouver, earned two assists in the Canucks’ 3:1 win over Arizona while Tampa Bay’s Palát scored once and earned one assist in his team’s 5:3 win over Boston.