News of Radio Prague

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Water levels fall throughout country

The Czech Republic is recording a gradual fall of water levels throughout the country after this week's catastrophic floods. In Prague, on Sunday morning, levels on the Vltava river were down by five metres from Wednesday's high. Experts, however, expect a month to pass before levels get back to normal. Rescue teams in the flood-hit areas have been replaced by thousands of clean-up workers and heavy machinery to remove tonnes of mud and debris. The country's hygiene officers have also warned of a possible outbreak of epidemics and urged those taking part in rescue work to respect health precautions and get vaccinated against diseases.

In the past week 220,000 people were evacuated from their homes. According to figures released by the interior ministry, 18,300 people took part in rescue work, out of which 3,500 were professional fire fighters, 7,800 volunteer fire fighters, and 7,000 police. Some 2,500 soldiers patrolled the evacuated areas for fear of looting. Fourteen people are believed to have lost their lives.

Third building collapses in Prague's Karlin district

Another house in the Prague 8 district of Karlin collapsed at about one o'clock after midnight. The interior ministry believes that no lives were lost as no bodies were found whilst rescue workers searched through the rubble. The building collapsed despite experts claiming it was safe. The police have now closed off much of the area to allow for further testing of building structures. The 25,000 evacuated people living in the district, will now have to wait longer before being allowed to return to their homes. On Saturday night, many had a brief chance to collect a few items before the area was cordoned off again. Saturday night's collapse was the third in the past three days. The first building collapsed on Thursday, the second on Friday.

City Hall wants to remove security around RFE/RL

Prague City Hall wants to remove security around the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) headquarters located in the city centre. Prague Mayor Igor Nemec believes it necessary in order to prevent a total collapse of traffic. The U.S. funded RFE/RL has been protected by armoured vehicles and concrete barriers since the terrorist attacks on the USA last September. With numerous flood affected roads closed off, the barriers around the RFE/RL building are adding extensively to the current critical transport situation. Public transport buses are to use the closed off lane to make up for the restricted operation of the metro network. The Central Crisis Committee, however, does not find it safe to discontinue the security measures and has suggested to open the lane and create space for traffic without removing the armoured vehicles.

Countries express solidarity sending rescue teams, monetary aid and machinery

Besides a large number of international organisations, several countries have expressed solidarity with the Czech Republic, offering machinery, monetary aid and man power. On Saturday, Italy sent water pumps and drying equipment, over 70 fire fighters from the German city of Frankfurt and 82 fire fighters from southern Poland set off to help the flood affected areas, and useful machinery is on its way from Great Britain and Sweden. The Russian embassy as well as the Israeli Foreign Minister, Simon Peres, also offered their country's help to the flood-hit areas.

Furthermore, in a telephone conversation on Saturday, the U.S. President, George Bush, told his Czech counterpart Vaclav Havel that the USA would help the Czech Republic recover from the devastating floods with every possible means. According to the U.S. embassy in Prague, some 500,000 U.S. dollars have already been provided for immediate aid. The American embassy also offered to take over care and cleaning of Kampa island, one of the hardest hit parts of Prague as well as collect donations from U.S. firms and U.S. citizens living in the Czech Republic to be used for the reconstruction of Kampa park. According to the CTK news agency, the United States also plans 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.

Weather

And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. Monday 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 29 degrees Celsius.