Topolanek government survives confidence vote
The country's recently-named centre-right government made up of the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Greens, has won its vote of confidence in the lower house. As expected, all 100 coalition MPs voted in favour, while opposition MPs from amongst the Social Democrats and Communists voted against. The absence of two rebel Social Democrat MPs - Milos Melcak and Michal Pohanka - was crucial in tipping the scales in the government's favour. Earlier this week, in a surprise development, both pledged to tolerate the country's recently-named government in order to help bring an end to seven months of political deadlock. The MPs negotiated a number of concessions in return, including a promise by the prime minister that the cabinet will negotiate all key reforms with the opposition.
Gale-force wind claims three lives, fourth killed in related accident on Friday
The gale force wind that swept across Europe overnight has caused extensive damage and claimed three lives in the Czech Republic. Two people were killed outside of Prague on Thursday when a falling tree crushed their car, while a fire fighter in northern Bohemia was also killed by a falling tree. A fourth person suffered a fatal head injury on Friday when he was hit by a falling tree while trying to clear up property damages.
Power networks, Czech Forests hard hit
On Thursday the strong wind caused blackouts across the country. Czech Airlines cancelled around 20 flights, mainly to European destinations. Similarly, other companies that have been tallying up damages from the gale force wind on Thursday include both the county's energy giant CEZ and power supplier E.ON. CEZ declared a state of emergency after twenty-seven reception points - serving more than a million customers - were left without power.
Other firms badly hit include the Czech forestry authority, which called the effects of Thursday's gale force wind "the worst natural disaster" to ever hit Czech forests. The seriousness of the situation is being assessed by the Agriculture Ministry.
Police arrest five suspected of robbing pensioner homes
Police in Pilsen, west Bohemia, have arrested five men, in their early to late twenties, suspected of robbing homes in pensioner apartment blocs. The five are believed to have incurred damages of up to 8 million crowns, the equivalent of around 370,000 US dollars, stealing cash, bank cards, jewellery, and electronic items. Together, the suspects are thought to have hit more than one hundred apartments at facilities providing home care services throughout the country. Several dozen apartments were targeted in the Pilsen area alone. A court is to decide whether the suspects will be remanded in custody pending trial.
Cech set to return after more than three-month absence
Football netminder Petr Cech is now set to return for his side Chelsea in the English Premiership, following a decision by the English Football Association ruling the player can wear protective headgear in league matches. Last October the 24 year-old Cech suffered a horrific skull fracture in a game against Reading when he collided with Reading player Stephen Hunt. Although the fracture has fully healed and he has been given the "okay" by doctors, Petr Cech will still have to wear a protective helmet in training and competition in the coming months. Speaking to the newspaper The Sun, the keeper said he had gotten used to the gear, a helmet normally used in rugby. Cech told the newspaper that he had no worries about returning to the pitch.
Meteorologists have warned that strong winds will continue in the Czech Republic into the weekend and a danger warning will remain in effect until 10 pm on Sunday. On the whole, experts do not expect a repeat of gale force winds like on Thursday. Some parts of the country will see showers; daytime temperatures in the Czech capital are expected to reach highs of around 11 degrees Celsius.