Offers of aid pour into Czech Republic

Town Plzen, Photo:CTK

As water levels recede, revealing the enormity of the destruction wrought by the devastating floods that swept through the Czech Republic, offers of help have started pouring in from around the world. Daniela Lazarova has more :

Town Plzen,  Photo:CTK
The response to this tragedy has been quick and generous. As emergency crews and volunteers struggled to protect lives and property, France, Sweden and Denmark promptly responded to an emergency request for badly needed heavy duty water pumps. Denmark dispatched its own team of experts to Prague and many other European countries said they had emergency crews on standby should the Czech Republic need extra help. The European Commission, which was among the first to respond, said it would provide a rapid relief package. Earlier today we got a short statement from the European Commission's charge d'affaires in Prague Ralf Dreyer:

"We appreciate very much the determination of the Czech government to deal with the floods and the damages and the efficiency of the emergency forces who have worked hard to prevent the worst. The Czech Republic will soon be a member state of the European Union therefore we care very much about the damage caused here and the population suffering. We have assured the Czech government of our solidarity and we have made a proposal that puts at the immediate disposal of the government roughly sixty million euros which is partly re-allocated from existing funds but there is, as well, a new grant of about 10 million euros that the Czech authorities can use to deal with the damage. That altogether amounts to 58 million euros which will be made available in a very short time -once damage assessment and need-assessment has been done and engineers have made appropriate proposals. "

Village Zalezlice,  one of the most severely damaged places in CR,  Photo:CTK
I understand that the EC President Mr. Romano Prodi is expected to arrive in Prague later today, is that correct?

"Yes, Mr. Prodi announced his visit after having discussed the situation with President Havel . He is arriving at 9,30am after which he will meet with President Havel and Prime Minister Spidla - together, by the way, with the EC' environment commissioner Mrs. Wallstrom who is due to arrive roughly two hours later. I think that this is a clear demonstration of good mutual relations and of intensified contacts in order to help the Czech Republic overcome its present difficulties."

The relief package from the EU is to be used for restoring communications, drinking water systems, public sewerage and wastewater treatment plants. Furthermore the European Commission will increase the Czech Republic's allocation from the PHARE programme by close to ten million euros. These funds should complement the rapid aid package and focus on improving citizens' living conditions and the restoration of the country's damaged cultural heritage.

Offers of financial help and expertise have likewise come from the International Red Cross, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, the United States, Taiwan and many others. The Czech foreign ministry has said it is grateful for the solidarity displayed and is currently coordinating these offers with the country's immediate needs.