News of Radio Prague

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Jet fighter deal latest victim of catastrophic floods

The government has announced it is to scrap plans to buy two dozen supersonic jet fighters for the Czech air force, saying rebuilding the country after last week's devastating floods was a greater priority. A Defence Ministry spokesman said the plan to buy 24 Gripen fighters from a consortium of Sweden's Saab and Britain's BAE Systems had been abandoned. The ministry will now submit an alternate plan on how to replace the country's fleet of ageing MiG fighters. The two-billion dollar deal was billed as the biggest defence contract in the country's history, but faced severe opposition from the outset. Even NATO - which the Czech Republic joined in 1999 - warned it could delay reform elsewhere in the armed forces.

Spidla - flood damage could reach three billion dollars

Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has said the cost of repairing the flood damage could reach 90 billion crowns, or almost three billion U.S. dollars. Mr Spidla told reporters it was still far too early to give a precise figure, but said estimated damage could range between 60 and 90 billion crowns. The government has received offers of aid from throughout the world, with the European Union alone promising some 58 million euros. Analysts say the disaster could knock as much as half a percentage point off annual GDP.

Prague mayor: Karlin closed at least until Friday

Prague's mayor Igor Nemec has said the city's Karlin district will remain closed off until at least Friday. Mr Nemec said the area between the Florenc and Invalidovna metro stations was a breeding ground for infectious diseases, with decaying meat in butchers' shops adding to the hygiene problem. The mayor said the 25,000 or so residents of Karlin would not be allowed back into their homes until soldiers had cleared the area of contaminated material and experts had examined buildings for structural damage. The area was sealed off for the second time on Sunday after a third flood-damaged building collapsed. Elsewhere in the city there was some good news - officials say Prague's famous 14th century Charles Bridge could be reopened to the public on Tuesday.

Prague transport situation critical

The authorities in Prague issued a new call on Monday for drivers to avoid the city centre, saying the transport situation in the capital was critical. Long queues of cars began to build up at junctions and bridges early on Monday morning. The metro remains badly affected, with 25 of the system's 51 stations closed, and the city centre cut off. Officials say the system will not return to normal for several months. The Florenc Bus Station, from where most long-distance and international buses leave, remains closed. Most of Prague's trams are running normally, but are severely overcrowded.

Runaway seal caught in Germany after five-day chase

A 12-year-old seal which escaped from Prague Zoo during the floods has been recaptured, after crossing the border into Germany. Gaston, a South African seal born in captivity, swam 120 kilometres down the flooded Elbe river towards the North Sea before finally being caught by German rescue workers near Dresden. At one point the five-day chase involved helicopters and teams of rescue workers on rafts, who received special permission to cross the border. Gaston will now be reunited with his two mates, who also attempted to escape.

Weather

Finally a look at the weather. And there's another hot and sunny day in store for the Czech Republic on Tuesday, with temperatures in the daytime reaching highs of 29 degrees Celsius. Temperatures at night will fall to lows of 12 degrees.