Public transit authority: anti-flood barriers were in place, metro was closed in time

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Public transport authority: anti-flood barriers were in place, metro was closed in time

Prague's public transport authority has released a statement defending its actions during last month's catastrophic flooding in the capital, saying that the Prague metro was closed in time, in accordance with flood measures. The authority has also indicated that anti-flood barriers, based on set standards and norms, were in place but simply ineffective against the record-high waters. A transport authority spokeswoman said on Thursday that an earlier closure of the metro system would have changed little in the outcome; she indicated that, on the contrary, an earlier closure of the metro would have complicated the evacuation of Prague residents from heavily flooded areas.

Mayor of Karlin: demolitions in flood-hit district to get underway

The mayor of Prague's Karlin district, Josef Nosek, has announced that ten out of thirty buildings damaged beyond repair in August's catastrophic floods will be demolished next week; Karlin was the worst hit area in Prague, where some 1100 buildings were flooded. The area is now being examined by eight experts continually assessing the overall damage. Friday morning Karlin residents will be allowed to return to their homes approximately one month after they were forced to evacuate due to the floods. Danger areas where demolitions will begin remain closed.

Parliament to vote on government tax reforms Friday

MPs in the Czech lower house have postponed voting on the government's proposed tax reform package for 2003, until this Friday. The package is aimed at raising funds to help cover enormous damage to the country left by last month's unprecedented floods. But, the reforms, which outline increases in both income and consumer taxes in order to secure an extra 10 billion crowns in revenues, had been met with heated debate within the country's coalition government. Junior partners the right-of-centre Freedom Union had been opposed to a Social Democrat proposal aimed at increasing taxes for the rich, although a consensus was eventually reached. Only one government MP, former Freedom Union leader Hana Marvanova, has said she will not support the reforms. Overall the tax reform package is expected to find enough support in parliament in order to be approved.

Austrian Freedom Party's new leader confirms "firm stance"

The new elections leader of Austria's far-right Freedom Party, Herbert Haupt, has confirmed he will take a "firm stance" on the Czech Republic in connection with the country's Temelin nuclear power plant, and its historic Benes decrees. Haupt made the comments in an interview Thursday, reiterating earlier Freedom Party threats that the party would block the Czech Republic's entry to the European Union unless the power plant, which lies just 60 kilometres from the Austrian border, was shut down. The Benes decrees, which sanctioned the expulsion of 2.5 million Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II have also been a bone of contention. Freedom Party attempts to connect the Temelin and Benes Decree issues with the Czech Republic's EU accession have always been criticised by mainstream Austrian politicians, including the country's President Thomas Klestil.

Motorist faces 5 years in prison after striking and killing cyclist

Police have wrapped-up their investigation into a fatal accident in June involving a 21-year-old motorist who lost control of his vehicle and struck a 40-year old female cyclist who died at the scene. The motorist was apparently on his way to the wedding ceremony of well-known Czech singer Daniel Hulka, who learned of the accident only later in the day. Czech police say the driver was under the influence of alcohol; now he could face five years in jail.

Weather

Finally a look at the weather: Thursday evening will see mostly clear skies with temperatures dropping to lows between 10 and 6 degrees Celsius. Friday will also see clear skies and temperatures reaching highs between 16 and 20 degrees.