News

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Three Czechs among 22 victims of Cambodia plane crash

Three Czechs are among the 22 people confirmed dead after their small plane crashed in Cambodia on Monday. There were no survivors. Cambodian authorities said bad weather was the most likely cause of the crash, which occurred in a mountainous area. The Russian made twin-propeller plane was travelling between two tourist destinations in the country. The Czech Foreign Ministry said the Czech victims were two men and a woman, aged 19 to 21.

Two more cases of bird flu detected in different parts of country

Hens which died on a farm in east Bohemia had the dangerous H5N1 strain of bird flu, health officials said on Wednesday. The farm is just four kilometres from the spot where the disease was also discovered last week, in what was the first case of any kind of bird flu detected on a Czech poultry farm. Meanwhile, officials said a dead swan found in Moravia also had bird flu. It has not yet been ascertained what strain of the disease the bird had.

The minister of agriculture, Petr Gandalovic, said measures aimed at preventing the further spread of bird flu had been introduced on the whole territory of the Czech Republic. The minister also said he was worried the outbreaks would have a negative impact on the country's poultry industry.

Press: Pilot under investigation for sleeping in cockpit during flight

A Czech pilot is under investigation for sleeping in the cockpit while flying a Travel Service plane from Tenerife to Prague two months ago, Mlada fronta Dnes reported. Furthermore, the pilot was allegedly alone in the cockpit at the time, which contravenes regulations. When the sleeping pilot's Boeing 737 appeared without authorisation in Swiss air space, the Swiss authorities sent fighter jets to investigate, the paper said. The airline Travel Service denies the latter allegation.

Construction to remain in 5-percent tax bracket as EU exemption is extended

The European Commission is going to extend until 2010 an exemption under which construction work in the Czech Republic is in the lower, five-percent value added tax bracket, the Czech Press Agency reported. The exemption had been due to come to an end in January, and there were fears of a subsequent rise in house prices. The EC is due to officially announce the news next week.

Preparations for Prague airport privatisation complete

The director of Prague airport, Miroslav Dvorak, says preparations have been completed for its privatisation. The privatisation process is set to begin this year, though the Ministry of Transport has not yet set a concrete date for the sell-off. However, Mr Dvorak said Prague airport should be in private ownership by spring next year.

Official removes controversial communist symbol from Soviet war memorial

The deputy mayor of the Brno suburb of Kralovo Pole Rene Pelan has on his own initiative removed a hammer and sickle symbol from a memorial to Soviet soldiers, TV Prima reported. Brno City Hall and the Defence Ministry had earlier this year decided to replace the communist symbols, which had been taken down in the early 1990s, during renovation of the 1946 monument. However, councillors in Kralovo Pole were opposed to the return of the hammer and sickle. Mr Pelan's removal of the symbols prompted clashes between supporters and opponents of his action at an unveiling ceremony on Wednesday. Police are investigating whether the local official broke the law by taking them down.

Media: Ice hockey goaltender Hasek, 42, to stay at Detroit one more season

The veteran Czech ice hockey goaltender Dominik Hasek has reportedly signed a new contract keeping him at Detroit Red Wings for another year. Hasek, who is 42, will receive USD 2.5 million a year, an improvement on the 1.65 million he got last season, said US media outlets.

Museum of music acquires rare Edision phonograph

The Czech Museum of Music has acquired a valuable Edison cylinder phonograph. The rare 19th century phonograph, which plays two- and four-minute recordings, was given to the museum by a bank, a spokesperson said. It will go on show on Monday.

Hollywood star Jolie shoots at Krivoklat castle

The Hollywood star Angelina Jolie has filmed part of her latest movie Wanted at Krivoklat castle in central Bohemia. The British actor Terence Stamp also took part in Tuesday's shoot, the Gothic castle's warden told reporters. Ms Jolie, her husband Brad Pitt and their children have been in Prague on and off since May during shooting of Wanted. Her co-star Morgan Freeman, meanwhile, has been spotted playing golf near the Czech capital.

Weather

It should get gradually warmer over the next few days, reaching a maximum of 29 degrees Celsius by the end of the week. It will be quite sunny with occasional rain.