Around one fifth of the town of Olomouc in the east of the country was hit by flood waters after an embankment holding back a raging Morava River gave way on Saturday night. A wave of water flooded into the lowest lying parts of the historic city, home to 100,000 inhabitants. In some places the water is up to one metre deep. A local official confirmed that 20 percent of the town had been hit. Earlier, several thousand people were evacuated ahead of the floods, with more joining them during the night. The level of the Morava River has now stabilised but the situation is said to remain critical because further embankments could give way. The Czech Army together has been helping reinforce flood defences. Specialists have already repaired the breach from late Saturday.
The bird flu virus has been uncovered in a sixth dead swan that was found in the south Bohemian region of Ceske Budejovice. The news was released by Josef Duben, spokesman for the State Veterinary Administration. A sample will be sent for testing to the European Union's Reference Laboratory in Weybridge, Britain, to confirm whether or not the flu is the deadly H5N1 strain - dangerous for human beings. Tests on one dead swan - the first case in the Czech Republic, found in Hluboka nad Vltavou, south Bohemia - confirmed the presence of the pathogenic virus. Other samples from dead swans confirmed H5.
In other parts of the country hundreds have been unable to return to their homes because of the floods. Emergency situations have been declared by half the country's regions after rivers swelled dangerously mid-week because of rain and melting snow. The Elbe River in the north of Bohemia - the region of Usti nad Labem - continues to wreak havoc. Emergency status is in effect.
The Elbe's waters are also causing havoc in the town of Melnik 30 kilometres north of Prague, where some 2,000 are expected to evacuate in the coming hours. Some one hundred police officers have been helping residents prepare to leave the area. The nearby Spolana chemical plant in Neratovice is also in danger of being hit by flood water from the river. The plant suspended operations several days ago in anticipation of the flood scenario.
Several regional governors have publicly criticised the government in connection with the floods, saying it did not fulfil promises to substantially improve anti-flood technology after the country was hit by severe flooding in 2002. Speaking on a Sunday discussion programme on Czech TV, Jiri Sulc, the regional governor in Usti nad Labem, north Bohemia, and a member of the opposition right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party, charged that there had been no funding for anti-flood barriers along the Elbe River basin in Usti. Mr Sulc was reacting to recent criticism by Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, suggesting it was the state that had been caught off guard. Regional Governor for south Bohemia and south Moravia Stanislav Juranek - a member of the Christian Democrats - has expressed discontent over delays in projects that he contends could have minimised damages. Earlier in the week, the Cabinet earmarked 380 million crowns (15.5 million US dollars) to aid the regions affected by the floods now. Later on Sunday the Cabinet will meet to discuss further steps.
Some 4,000 people in the area of Breclav, south Moravia were ordered to evacuate by their regional governor Stanislav Juranek. Villages there have been hit by waters from the confluence of the Dyje and Jevisovka Rivers, creating a massive lake in the area that had been divided by a railway embankment. That has now been breached and floodwaters joined. Further on, a number of villages are not considering evacuation for the time being: around 90 volunteers, soldiers, and fire fighters have been working on a 60 metre long bulwark to try and keep flood waters back.
Kenyan runners on Saturday won in both the men and women's races in the Prague half-marathon. Stephen Kibiwott finished with a time of 1:01:15, just 8 seconds off the record, while Caroline Kwambai - the women's favourite - edged her nearest rival by 3 seconds. The best Czech finish of the day came in the men's half-marathon: Pavel Faschingbauer finished fifth, more than five minutes off the Kenyan leader.
The picturesque town of Hrensko - found on the Elbe River and Kamenice Brook in north Bohemia - has been almost completely flooded, and movement in the village is now possible only by raft or boat. Some twenty-three locals whose property remains well above the water levels have remained in their homes: the water there is not expected to rise further. The mayor of Hrensko has suggested that while the village had not been hit as badly as in flooding in 2002, the cost of repairs will be high.
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