Press Review

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Another flood-damaged edition of Press Review today - all the papers continue to report on the clean-up operation underway in the Czech Republic, as well as news of more floods elsewhere in the world - both Lidove noviny and Mlada fronta Dnes feature identical colour photos of German volunteers basking in the sun on a pile of sandbags, waiting for the wave of water to hit the city of Hamburg. Meanwhile, China is bracing itself for a flood of truly biblical proportions, with up to a million people being evacuated from the swollen Lake Dongting.

Another flood-damaged edition of Press Review today - all the papers continue to report on the clean-up operation underway in the Czech Republic, as well as news of more floods elsewhere in the world - both Lidove noviny and Mlada fronta Dnes feature identical colour photos of German volunteers basking in the sun on a pile of sandbags, waiting for the wave of water to hit the city of Hamburg. Meanwhile, China is bracing itself for a flood of truly biblical proportions, with up to a million people being evacuated from the swollen Lake Dongting.

Back in the Czech Republic, and those people who ignored warnings to evacuate their homes could end up paying for being taken to safety. The head of the Prague Fire Brigade tells Pravo today that he's received permission to begin issuing fines to those people who ignored evacuation warnings and later had to be rescued by irate firemen.

Quite right, says Lidove noviny in its leader column. At the moment it's not clear how the firemen will prosecute them or how much they'll have to pay for being escorted to safety in a luxury dinghy. But no matter whether it's 500 crowns or a 1,000, the symbolic fine will serve as a warning to others who ignore the authorities in future crises. Such selfish, pig-ignorant behaviour, says the paper, simply puts people's lives at risk - not only the lives of the people concerned, but also the lives of the people who have to go and save them afterwards.

The paper says the purity of the country's river water has been set back around twelve years by the floods. Raw sewage, dead animals and even potentially hazardous toxic waste are flowing unchecked through the country's streams and rivers, after a number of wastewater treatment plants were knocked out of action. Lidove noviny says the disaster is a huge blow for the environment: officials believe the country's rivers have been set back more than a decade, and they're now more or less in the same state as the Communists left them in.

Mlada fronta Dnes takes up the theme with news that the country's chief hygiene officer has banned swimming in all rivers and reservoirs affected by the floods, saying there's a serious risk of catching a whole number of bacterial diseases. Officials say rivers are now a heady cocktail of salmonella, leptospirosis, hepatitis and something called deer-fly fever, which sounds charming.

But as long as you stay out of the river, you'll be OK, says the chief hygiene officer. There's no serious threat to emergency workers in flooded areas, he says, pointing out that bacterial diseases travel by water, not air, and maintaining proper hygiene is sufficient to eliminate the risk. As for people living near flooded rivers, he tells Mlada fronta Dnes, as long as you don't actually water your vegetables with river water, you'll be fine. But forget swimming, for now at least.

And finally, says Mlada fronta Dnes, this was the country's first SMS disaster. For the first time, says the paper, the authorities warned people to stay away from flood-risk areas and not to drive into Prague by sending text messages to their mobile phones. Ninety-five percent of people in Prague own a mobile phone, says the paper, and SMSes have proved the fastest method of spreading information over the last two weeks. The mobile phone, which just a few years ago was still considered a mere toy, has now become the most effective means of communication in a crisis.