News of Radio Prague
Spidla declares state of emergency
Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla called a state of emergency in five regions in Bohemia on Monday. In a public address on Czech Radio, Mr Spidla stated that the damage caused by heavy floods in Prague, Central Bohemia, South Bohemia, and the Pilsen and Carlsbad districts was extensive enough to threaten the property, health, and lives of citizens. The state of emergency has been called to run from 1800 hrs on Monday to midnight on August 22nd, meaning that anyone other than rescue workers is prohibited to enter restricted and evacuated zones and evacuated citizens are compelled to report their temporary places of residence to the authorities.
Several towns have been cut off and many villages flooded as new rain continued to swell rivers in south-central Bohemia. Whilst firemen and soldiers have already evacuated a number of towns and villages, the regional governor in central-Bohemia called for people living around the Berounka and Vltava rivers to prepare for further evacuation. People have also been told to leave parts of the UNESCO-protected town of Cesky Krumlov - the second most popular tourist destination after the capital city, Prague. Jan Bauer, the mayor of the southern town of Prachatice, told Czech Radio that the flooding had left trains and buses not running because bridges have fallen and roads are damaged. Whilst floods sweeping across Europe have killed more than 60 people in the last week, the Czech Republic has reported four casualties so far. Another three people - including two voluntary firemen - died of heart attacks during rescue work.
Meanwhile in Prague, meteorologists expect the flooding in the city lying downstream on the Vltava river to be the worst since 1890. Whilst several low-lying streets and islands have already been flooded, the Prague crisis committee warns that a new wave could lead to the Vltava river spilling into more of the city overnight. The new wave threatens to be much bigger, possibly bringing in twice as much water as the damaging wave that reached the city on Friday. Several districts of Prague are without electricity and some 70 patients had to be evacuated from the Na Frantisku hospital on the Vltava embankment and transported to four other hospitals on Monday afternoon. With more rain forecast in the next few days, the crisis committee fears further flooding due to the soil's inability to hold any more water and the failure of dams containing the flow.
Jiri Kolar is dead
Jiri Kolar, one of the Czech Republic's most famous and influential artists is dead. After a series of illnesses that left him weak and exhausted, he died in his apartment in Prague on Sunday at the age of 88. Mr Kolar is mainly known for his poetry and unique collages. After the rise of Communism in 1948, he went through a decades-long struggle to be allowed to publish and exhibit. His refusal to compromise resulted in a nine month prison sentence in 1950, which led him to sign the Charter 77 human rights declaration along with other opposition figures such as the current Czech President Vaclav Havel. In 1980, Mr Kolar emigrated to France, where he stayed until the collapse of Communist rule in 1989. Mr Kolar had several exhibitions in western Europe and the United States, including a 1981 show in New York's Guggenheim Museum.
Police continue with 'Operation Foreigner'
Police in west-Bohemia have began another attempt to clamp down on foreigners, mainly from countries from the former Soviet Union, who are suspected of unlawful behaviour. From 4pm on Sunday to 4am on Monday, the police raided several hostels, restaurants, and bus and train stations in the region. Since the stabbing of a policeman by a Russian citizen on August 2nd in one of Prague's most frequented metro stations, the police have sworn to crack down on foreigners believed to be engaged in illegal activities. Under "Operation Foreigner", the police have detained 62 of 740 people checked.
And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. The rainy weather is expected to continue throughout the week, with overcast skies, showers and storms expected throughout most of the country. Temperatures in the daytime on Tuesday will reach a maximum of 19 degrees Celsius and are expected to increase gradually to reach 23 degrees by Friday.