News of Radio Prague

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One dead, dozens rescued in Czech coal-mine collapse

A cave-in deep inside the Doubrava coalmine in North Moravia killed one miner and injured 13 others on Thursday. A rescue team pulled three of the most seriously injured Polish miners from underneath the rubble and more than a dozen trapped miners managed to scramble to the surface. Safety investigators from the government and the mining company have said the tremor which caused the early morning accident at the Doubrava mine was impossible to predict. Although the cave-in occurred about 800 metres underground, local residents on the surface said the shaking felt like an earthquake.

Decision on purchase of Gripens postponed until after elections

The decision on the purchase of 24 new Jas-39 Gripen fighter jets will be postponed until after this weekend's elections as the Czech lower house failed on Thursday to override the Senate's rejection of a bill proposing that the purchase should be financed from privatisation proceeds. The decision will now be delayed for several months. Even if the new government were to support it, the bill will have to be passed by both houses of parliament and the entire legislative process will have to be repeated. The current government had agreed with the British-Swedish consortium BAE Systems/SAAB on postponing the signing of the contract until September 30, which means the new government would sign the contract.

Temelin shut down again after only hours of operation

A power-generating turbine at the first reactor of the Temelin nuclear plant was shut down again on Thursday morning only hours after the power station was reconnected to the national grid on Wednesday evening. The plant had been shut down on Monday because of the same problem. A spokesman has said technicians will replace insulation in the electric part of the turbine, adding that the latest stoppage did not affect the nuclear reactors. Since the controversial plant was launched in October 2000, it has been plagued with technical faults and has been shut down dozens of times. The shutdown comes just days after government regulators approved a request to graduate the first unit from the "testing" stage of operation to the "trial" stage. Last month, regulators approved the test start-up of Unit 2.

Czech polls underway abroad

Polling stations at Czech embassies and consulates opened for Czech citizens living abroad on Thursday. This year's election is the first time Czech ex-pats have been allowed to take part in elections in their home country. Polling booths in the Czech Republic will not open until Friday afternoon, but Czechs living abroad are being asked to vote a day earlier to eradicate problems with the time difference, especially in the Americas. Czech embassies and consulates have registered minimal interest in the elections, and only a few hundred Czech citizens living abroad are expected to vote. According to unofficial estimates there are about 70,000 Czech citizens living abroad, many of whom have criticised the fact that they have to travel to distant embassies rather than cast their votes by post.

Weather

Thursday night should be overcast with isolated rain or thunderstorms. Night time temperatures are expected to range from 15 to 10 degrees Celsius.