News of Radio Prague

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Rychetsky: Czech Republic still to pass 30 EU laws

The Czech Republic has still to pass thirty European laws and a law on referendum, Justice Minister Pavel Rychetsky said on Friday. The Czech Republic is the only of the ten EU candidate countries not to have a referendum law despite the fact that the fifteen European Union members are likely to decide on the Union's enlargement at the Copenhagen summit in December and the accession treaty might be ready by January next year. Mr Rychetsky said the devastating floods had halted the normal activities of the government. The referendum bill has already been passed by the lower house and has yet to be approved by the Senate. Mr Rychetsky said, however, that differences in opinion between the two parliamentary houses were complicating the matter. The Senate is planning to submit its own bill on a one-off EU accession referendum.

Ruling Social Democrats to decide on presidential candidate

On a different topic, Justice Minister Pavel Rychetsky has also said the ruling Social Democrats will decide on the party's presidential candidate by the end of next week. The new president, who will replace Vaclav Havel, whose second and last term of office expires early next year, will be elected by both houses of parliament at the beginning of January 2003. Some Social Democrat members have mentioned the former party chairman and Prime Minister Milos Zeman as a possible candidate. Other names which have been mentioned include the Czech Ombudsman Otakar Motejl, the Rector of Charles University Ivan Wilhelm, cancer specialist doctor Zdenek Dienstbier and ex-justice minister Jaroslav Bures.

Insurance companies increase flood damage estimates

Insurance companies operating in the Czech Republic have increased flood damage estimates to 30.7 billion crowns. The number of claims has been reduced from 132,000 to 104,000, as registered by the Czech Insurers' Association. The overall damage caused by the floods across the Czech Republic is estimated at 90-100 billion crowns. Insurance companies expect to cover up to 1/3 of the damage. So far, insurers have paid their flood-stricken clients around 2 billion crowns, mostly in advance payments.

Nitric acid leaks from freight train near Sokolov in west Bohemia

A freight container on a train in the west Bohemian village of Nove Sedlo, near Sokolov has again started leaking dangerous nitric acid. The container has not been removed from the railway station despite a railway spokesman claiming that it had been dealt with. Thursday's leak was caused by faulty equipment. Friday's leak is less serious, but local fire-fighters were called to the scene. Nitric acid is a colourless liquid which corrodes all metals with the exception of platinum and gold. It is not only dangerous in contact with the skin but also when inhaled.

Prague Zoo to open to visitors on Saturday

Prague Zoo, severely damaged by the recent floods, is going to reopen to visitors on Saturday morning. People will be able to see parts of the zoo which remained untouched by water, as well as a small part of the flooded area which has been restored. The zoo is going to display photographs of the recent events and install boxes around the site where visitors can donate money towards the recovery of the zoo. Approximately 400 animals had to be relocated to other zoos around the Czech Republic after the flood which had caused the death of close to a hundred animals, mostly birds.

Weather

Saturday and Sunday will be partly cloudy with a chance of isolated showers. Temperatures during the day should reach highs of 26 degrees Celsius.