News of Radio Prague

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Tvrdik: Czechs to send field hospital to Kabul

Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik has said the first members of an army field hospital bound for Afghanistan are to leave for Kabul next Monday. The unit is being deployed to support the U.S.-led military operation in the country. The field hospital will comprise some 120 men and women, about one third of whom are medical staff. The Czech army has already sent an anti-chemical warfare unit with about 350 personnel to Kuwait.

Spidla: we want RFE to continue broadcasting from Prague

The deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla said on Monday he had reassured the United States that his government wants the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe to continue broadcasting from the Czech Republic, but was concerned about the station's present location in centre of Prague. Speaking after his return from an official visit to the U.S., Mr Spidla told reporters that the station's current headquarters at the top of Prague's Wenceslas Square were "completely unsuitable." The Radio Free Europe (RFE/RL) building has been surrounded by armed personal carriers and soldiers since the September 11th attacks on the United States. Earlier Radio Free Europe said it had turned down an offer from the mayor of Budapest to move the station's headquarters to the Hungarian capital.

CEZ to merge with eight regional distribution companies

Trade and Industry Minister Miroslav Gregr has announced that the state-owned energy utility CEZ is to merge with the country's eight regional electricity distribution companies. The Czech government was forced to delay the privatisation of CEZ after bids from foreign investors fell short of the asking price.

Temelin staff complete loading of fuel into second reactor

Meanwhile, staff at the Temelin nuclear power plant, which is owned and operated by CEZ, say they have finished loading fuel into the plant's second reactor. Temelin staff are now running checks on the fuel, and similar checks will be carried out by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Czech Republic's State Authority for Nuclear Safety later on Monday. The reactor will then be prepared for test launch. Temelin's first reactor was launched in October 2000, amid protests from neighbouring Austria and Germany. The plant's opponents say Temelin's mixture of Soviet-era design and Western operating technology poses a risk to safety; the Czech government insists the plant is safe

Gas explosion destroys residential building

A gas explosion destroyed a residential building in the south-east village of Hrusovany nad Jevisovkou on Monday, injuring five people. Another 20 buildings were damaged by the blast, which shook the village around 5 a.m. Two of the victims were hospitalised with serious injuries; three others were slightly hurt. The explosion started a fire which reduced the four-storey building to rubble and damaged the roofs and walls of neighbouring structures. Firemen are searching the rubble for clues to the exact cause of the blast.

Radioactive train cargo returned to Slovakia

Slovak Radio reported on Monday that radiation was registered in a train carriage carrying scrap iron rap from a Slovak firm to the Nova Hut metallurgical works in Ostrava, North Moravia last week. The cargo has since been returned to Slovakia. Slovak officials say the levels of radiation measured in the carriage did not pose a risk to human health.

Weather

And finally a look at the weather. There'll be more fine weather on Tuesday, with clear skies and daytime temperatures reaching highs of 17 degrees Celsius.