News of Radio Prague

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Chlorine gas leak from Spolana

A second degree chemical alert remains in force in the north Bohemian town of Neratovice following a chlorine gas leak from the chemical plant Spolana. The inhabitants of Neratovice and several nearby villages were warned to stay indoors and to prepare for evacuation late on Friday night after Spolana officials confirmed the leak of an unspecified amount of chlorine gas. A Spolana representative told journalists on Saturday that an estimated several hundred kilograms of chlorine had leaked through a broken pipe. He said that when the plant was flooded close to 80 tons of chlorine had leaked into the river Elbe. Chlorine is deadly to humans in high concentrations and was used as a chemical weapon in World War One. Friday's chlorine leak is the second since the plant was damaged in the floods. Greenpeace activists have expressed concern about possible contamination of the river Elbe if poisonous dioxins and 25,000 kg of mercury stored at the Spolana chemical plant should leak.

No sign of post-flood epidemic

Hygiene officers say that measures to prevent an epidemic of infectious diseases in the wake of the floods have so far proved successful. No new cases of hepatitis A have been reported and the vaccination of high risk groups continues. This includes children in the 3 to 7 age bracket living in the affected areas since they cannot be expected to follow strict hygiene instructions . Paramedics are also distributing gamma globulin as a form of protection. In the flooded regions the school year will be starting later and parents have been advised to send young children to stay with friends and relatives while the risk of infection is still high. Many European states have also offered to host children from the flooded regions.

Beneficiary concert for rescue workers

The National Theatre in Prague is preparing a beneficiary concert in honor of the thousands of rescue workers who risked their lives to help others in the recent floods. The event is being held under the auspices of President Havel. The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and the country's leading opera singers, actors and pop stars will be on stage on the night of September 1st. "This is our thanks to the emergency crews, firefighters, police, army and the thousands of volunteers who faced this crisis with stamina and courage and who helped to prevent the worst" a spokesman for the National Theatre told the press.

Albright seeks more aid for Prague

The former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who is of Czech descent, has issued a plea for Washington to step up emergency flood assistance to the Czech Republic. Speaking on Czech Radio, Mrs. Albright who was born in Prague but emigrated to the US at age 11 with her family, said she had asked the Secretary of State Colin Powell to "do something more" for the country hit by severe flooding. Since the flood crisis began last week, the US government has pledged 500,000 dollars in cash, water pumps and humanitarian aid to the Czech Republic. This week the US ambassador to Prague Craig Stapleton toured hard-hit cities in the southern parts of the country.

Weather forecast

Sunday should bring clear to partly cloudy skies with day temps between 24 and 29 degs C.