Thousands evacuated in Moravia, municipalities still on high flood alert
Over forty municipalities around the country are still on high flood alert, as their rivers swell due to rain and melted snow, the Czech Hydro-meteorological Institute has announced. The worst affected area is Moravia's Znojmo region around the River Dyje, where over 10,000 people have been evacuated. Local authorities say another 20,000 may have to leave their homes if things get worse. The northern city Usti nad Labem, and several other towns and villages in the region, have also begun evacuating residents with disabilities.
Museums and zoo on alert in Prague
The capital city is also on alert. Work continued through the night to reinforce river banks and secure flood defences. Several museums have moved their exhibits to other venues and Prague Zoo has taken its gorillas out of the pavilion, though no animals have been evacuated. With water levels of the River Vltava rising steadily, Mayor Pavel Bem inspected the metro's security system and assured Prague residents that the city is well prepared for the threat of flooding.
Prime Minister Paroubek meets senior politicians during brief visit to Egypt
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek visited Egypt briefly on Thursday to reaffirm the stable relationship that both countries have enjoyed for decades and to revive business relations. Czech firms are hoping to help Egypt build roads, sewerage and power plants, re-open sugar refineries, and rebuild railways. The political situation in the Middle East was also discussed. In a two hour talk with President Hosni Mubarak, for example, both politicians agreed that it was too early to assess what turn relations will take in Israel, where the Israelis and the Palestinians have elected their new leaderships.
On Thursday afternoon, Prime Minister Paroubek flew back to Prague in order to attend a special government meeting on the flood situation.
Czech Republic to stock up on bird flu drug
The Czech Republic plans to stock up on anti-viral drugs thought to be effective against bird flu. By the end of the first quarter of next year there should be enough medicine to cover the needs of one fifth of the population, the country's chief hygienist Michael Vit said on Thursday.
Three swans have already died of bird flu around the town of Hluboka in south Bohemia. An EU laboratory in England has confirmed that one of them carried the H5N1 strain of bird flu that is potentially deadly to humans; the other two swans are still being tested. Special veterinary measures have been introduced in three and ten kilometre zones around Hluboka, in line with EU regulation.
Senate rejects Labour Code
The upper house of Parliament, the Senate, has rejected a new Labour Code, which was pushed through the lower house by the Social Democrats and the Communists. The opposition Civic Democrats and the two junior ruling coalition parties the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union say the bill threatens the flexibility of the labour market and is unconstitutional because it gives trade unions too much power, and makes it difficult for employers to let go of unproductive staff and employ new people.
In November, over 25,000 members of 51 trade unions flocked to Prague to support the proposed new Labour Code in a demonstration that was the biggest that the country has seen since the Velvet Revolution sixteen years ago.
Deputy Prime Minister Skromach to take legal action against TV Nova accusations
Deputy Prime Minister Zdenek Skromach intends to take legal action against a popular TV investigative programme that tied him to a controversial privatisation deal. On Wednesday, TV Nova's Na Vlastni Oci magazine said Mr Skromach was involved in the Unipetrol privatisation negotiations, widely believed to have been lined with corruption and shady business deals. Mr Skromach, who is also Labour and Social Affairs Minister, says he was never involved in the negotiations and will lodge a criminal complaint against the accusations.
Court sentences adoptive father of deceased Czech boy to six months in prison
A Swedish court has found the adoptive father of a Czech boy, who died earlier this year, guilty of neglect and has sentenced him to six months in prison. Three-year old Erik, who was sent to the Swedish family in the town of Jonkoping last year, died of untreated pneumonia and blood poisoning. His body was covered with over 150 bruises and festering wounds.
His adoptive parents originally faced up to six years in prison on charges of psychological and physical abuse, resulting in death. The charges were reduced to neglect after an expert on infectious diseases testified that the wounds may also have been caused by a skin disease. The court is still awaiting the result of the adoptive mother's psychiatric assessment.
Czech-Austrian projects to benefit from 3.5 million crown EU grant
The European Union has earmarked another 3.5 million crowns (a little under 150,000 US dollars) for Czech-Austrian projects involving towns, schools, organisations and civic associations in South Bohemia. Close to 90 such cultural, tourist, and educational projects have already been financed from a seven million crown donation. These include emergency workers' joint preparations for various catastrophes, as well as art and music festivals.
Jagr sets club record
Czech ice hockey player Jaromir Jagr has set a new record for points scored in one season at his club the New York Rangers. After four assists in Rangers' 5:1 defeat of the New York Islanders on Wednesday, Jagr has 113 points. He also leads the NHL players points table.
The next few days are forecast with more scattered showers. Day temperatures will range from 13 to 17 degrees Celsius.