News of Radio Prague
Water levels fall throughout country
The Czech Republic is recording a gradual fall of water levels throughout the country and now faces the task of cleaning up after this week's catastrophic floods. In Prague, water levels on Saturday morning were down by more than four metres from Wednesday's high. Experts, however, expect a month to pass before levels get back to normal. Rescue teams have been replaced by thousands of clean-up workers and heavy machinery to remove tonnes of mud and debris. In the north of the country where the Vltava and Elbe rivers meet before heading into southern Germany, water levels also receded from nearly 12 metres. Hundreds of homes lay in ruins with dozens more on the verge of collapse.
Evacuated citizens eager to return to their homes
Although the record water levels across the Czech Republic retreated further on Saturday, thousands of evacuated residents were unable to return to their homes as many areas remained without gas and electricity. Despite growing frustration, officials urged the evacuated citizens to be patient as authorities need more time to go building to building to ensure structures are safe. The floods forced some 70,000 Prague residents from their homes, and more than 130,000 were evacuated in the rest of the country.
UNESCO Secretary General calls for sights to be saved after flooding
The UNESCO Secretary General, Koichiro Matsuura, called on to the international community on Saturday to mobilise its forces to save world heritage sites from damage by extensive floods in Central Europe. Mr Matsuura said that UNESCO and its World Heritage Centre needed to provide all the technical and financial assistance available to help restore the flood damaged cultural heritage. He also expressed deep regret over the damaged centre of the Czech capital Prague, its old Jewish quarter, and the south Bohemian town of Cesky Krumlov. Both Prague and Cesky Krumlov were entered in the UNESCO list of world heritage sites in 1992. Mr Matsuura furthermore wrote a letter to President Vaclav Havel to support his call for international aid to the Czech Republic.
Countries express solidarity sending rescue teams and machinery
Besides the large number of international organisations, several countries have also expressed solidarity with the Czech Republic, offering machinery and help from rescue workers. On Saturday, Italy sent water pumps and drying equipment and over 70 fire fighters from the German city of Frankfurt and some 40 fire fighters from southern Poland set off to help the flood affected areas. The countries have promised further help if needed. According to the CTK news agency, the United States intends to offer engineer equipment to those areas affected by the floods that it liberated in World War Two. This would involve the West Bohemian town of Plzen and the South Bohemian town of Pisek. A diplomatic source in Washington told the news agency that a proposal has already been submitted to the Czech side. Details are expected to be discussed during a meeting between U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic Craig Stapleton, and the Mayor of Plzen on Tuesday.
And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. Sunday is expected to start off with mostly clear skies that will gradually turn cloudy, bringing scattered showers and thunderstorms towards the evening. Temperatures are forecast between 24 and 28 degrees Celsius.