News of Radio Prague
Lower house observes minute's silence for those who died in flood
The lower house of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, has held a minute's silence for the fourteen people who died during the devastating floods which hit the Czech Republic over the last two weeks. During a special session on Friday, the prime minister, Vladimir Spidla, called on the chamber to pay tribute to all those who had bravely faced the floods and helped to avert an even worse catastrophe. Mr Spidla also thanked Czechs for their "stamina, courage and effort" during the floods, the costs of which are estimated at up to 90 billion Czech crowns, or almost three billion US dollars.
Debate on tax increases inconclusive
The Chamber of Deputies held a debate on the possibility of taxes being increased to help pay for the damages caused by the floods. While the government is considering raising taxes, Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Friday that it was too early to speak in specific terms. The opposition Civic Democrats meanwhile expressed strong opposition to any tax increase.
Weather forecasters warn rivers could rise again in flood hit areas
While many parts of the Czech Republic experienced sunshine on Friday, weather forecasters have warned that some regions which have been flooded could be hit again; warm weather brings storms and those rains could raise river levels. The ground in flood hit areas is still water-logged and could not absorb any more water, experts from the Czech Meteorological Institute said on Friday.
South Moravian and Lower Austrian authorities to set up floods body
The authorities in south Moravia and Lower Austria are to set up a joint body to deal with possible flooding in the region of the Dyje river, which separates the Czech Republic and Austria. At a meeting on Friday the chairman of the Czech Senate, Petr Pithart, and Lower Austrian governor, Ervin Proell, agreed that shortcomings in cross-border co-operation during the recent floods needed to be dealt with. Mr Proell said that the floods would be high on the agenda of talks between the Czech and Austrian presidents, Vaclav Havel and Tomas Klestil, when the two men meet in two weeks' time.
Czech Rail says it will take two years to repair damages to network
Czech Rail has said it will take two years to repair the damage to the country's rail network. The company estimates that almost two and a half billion Czech crowns worth of damage has been done to transport infrastructure and other property. A Czech Rail spokesman said on Friday that while some repair work would be done this year, the greater part would be carried out in 2003 and 2004.
Saturday should be another sunny day, though storms are expected in places. Temperatures will reach as high as 28 degrees Celsius. Sunday is expected to be partially cloudy with rain in places, again with temperatures of up to 28 degrees Celsius.