News of Radio Prague

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Foreign Ministry: 30 Czechs reported missing after attacks

The Czech Foreign Ministry has said thirty Czechs are officially reported missing in the wake of Tuesday's terrorist attacks on the United States. However a Foreign Ministry official said the figure was changing constantly, and included people calling the ministry worried about friends living in New York whom they hadn't seen for 20 years. The Czech General Consul in New York, Petr Gandalovic, said that he knew of around 20 Czech citizens in the city at the time of the attacks who had not yet been accounted for.

Departure of Czech rescue team postponed

The departure of a 25-man rescue team from the Czech Republic, which had hoped to leave for the United States on Wednesday evening, has been postponed. The team, including dog-handlers, medical staff and fire fighters, had gathered in Prague on Wednesday afternoon ready to leave for the U.S. The Czech Interior Minister, Stanislav Gross, said their arrival would only pose logistical problems for the U.S. authorities, adding that American emergency teams clearly had enough manpower and resources to cope with the rescue effort.

Hospitals offer blood plasma, doctors, beds

However hospitals throughout the Czech Republic have said they are still ready to send doctors, nurses and blood plasma to the United States immediately. A spokesman for the Health Ministry said Czech hospitals were also on hand to treat victims of Tuesday's attacks if American hospitals run short of beds. Meanwhile hundreds of people across the country have been ringing their local blood transfusion centres offering to donate blood. The Czech Red Cross has also organised a public collection to raise money for the victims.

Irish P.M. cancels visit to Prague

The Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern has postponed his planned two-day visit to Prague. Mr Ahern was to arrive in Prague on Thursday, but officials said he had postponed his visit in order to attend Friday's ceremony in Dublin for the victims of the attack. No new date was given for his visit.

U.S. ambassador expresses gratitude for Czech condolences, offers of help

The new U.S. ambassador to Prague, Craig Stapleton, expressed his sincere gratitude on Wednesday to the dozens of people who have sent e-mails, faxes and made telephone calls over the past two days offering their condolences. President Vaclav Havel added a bouquet of flowers to the dozens of wreaths on the pavement in front of the embassy building, and held a short meeting with Ambassador Stapleton. Meanwhile church bells rang out at noon in churches across the country as congregations remembered the dead and injured. Several hundred people gathered on Prague's Wenceslas Square on Wednesday afternoon, lighting candles at the statue of St Wenceslas.

U.S., Israeli embassies closed; security tight in Prague

Mr Stapleton later said the U.S. embassy would reopen to the public on Thursday, although police continue to maintain tight security measures outside the building in Prague's Mala Strana district. The Israeli Embassy is still closed, and security has been increased around other embassies and consulates. A police spokesman said extra officers were guarding all government and other official buildings including Prague Castle, the seat of the Czech President. Extra measures are also in place at the headquarters of the Prague-based Radio Free Europe, the U.S.- funded news organisation which broadcasts to many countries in the Arab world. The radio station's former headquarters in Munich were attacked by a terrorist bomb in the early 1980s, injuring Radio Free Europe staff. Security has also been tightened around Czech diplomatic missions in the Middle East.

Police monitoring "several citizens of Arab countries"

Police have also stepped up security on all of the country's borders, and a spokeswoman said police in North Bohemia were "monitoring several citizens of Arab countries". She gave no further details. Meanwhile the Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik and Interior Minister Stanislav Gross announced on Wednesday that the Czech army and security forces would remain on high alert. The country's national carrier, Czech Airlines, has said scheduled flights to and from the United States will begin again on Thursday. However all unscheduled and non-charter flights over the Czech Republic have been banned.

Communists, Republicans, Palestinians condemn attacks

More groups have expressed their condemnation of Tuesday's attacks. The leaders of the hard-line Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and the far-right Republican Party - both traditional enemies of the United States and NATO - joined mainstream parties in condemning the attacks and offering their condolences to the American people. Representatives of the small Palestinian community living in the Czech Republic also said they condemned the attacks. They also accused the world media of exaggerating reports that many Palestinians had celebrated news of the catastrophe unfolding in New York and Washington on Tuesday night.

Weather forecast

And finally a quick look at the weather. There will be more cloudy and rainy weather on Friday, with temperatures in the daytime rising to a maximum of 18 degrees Celsius. Temperatures at night will fall to lows of 12 degrees.