After a week of severe flooding, most of the swollen rivers in the Czech
Republic have either stabilised or begun to recede. Though people have
begun returning to their homes in many parts of the country, there are
fears of more flooding, with heavy rains expected on Wednesday.
A state of emergency has been declared in seven of the country's 14 regions; it will remain in place until next Monday.
Economists say the damage caused by this year's floods will be considerably lower than that seen in 1997 and 2002, though accurate estimates will have to wait until the flood waters recede completely. The Czech Republic's European commissioner, Vladimir Spidla, has said he will raise the question of possible financial aid from the European Union Solidarity Fund at the Commission.
The Czech Republic is now the ninth biggest producer of cars in Europe, according to figures compiled by analysts J.D. Power. The country reached the top ten thanks to the building of a large factory in central Bohemia which produces Toyota and Citroen-Peugeot vehicles; it should become a bigger car-making powerhouse with the completion of a Hyundai plant in Moravia.
A seventh case of bird flu has been reported in the Czech Republic. The state veterinary office confirmed on Tuesday that another swan found dead in the Vltava River in south Bohemia was infected with the H5 virus. The first case of H5 appeared ten days ago and the laboratory in Weybridge confirmed that the swan had died of the deadly H5N1 variety. All the other cases of H5 are swans found in the close vicinity. The safety measures introduced include a ban on the transport of live birds, poultry products and eggs, the use of disinfectants and a close monitoring of both the wild-bird population and the small farms and big holdings.
The long cold winter led to record consumption of natural gas in the Czech Republic in first quarter of this year, according to figures just released. Gas usage was up 7.5 percent on the same period in 2005, with the highest daily consumption in the last week of January, when temperatures of around minus 17 degrees Celsius were recorded.
The United States ambassador to Prague, William Cabaniss, says there is
little chance of the US lifting visa requirements for Czechs in the
near future. But speaking after a meeting with Mr Cabaniss at the US
embassy, Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said he believed the United
States would change its position and lift the restrictions.
Meanwhile, the Czech ambassador to Washington, Petr Kolar, told Mlada fronta Dnes the Czech Republic would use a number of avenues to try to lobby US congressmen to support the abolition of visa requirements for Czechs, which he referred to as a strategic mistake.
The Bahamas have promised to consider a Czech request for the extradition of Viktor Kozeny before looking at a similar appeal from the United States, Czech Justice Minister Pavel Nemec said on Monday. His officials were in the Bahamas last week for talks with local authorities. Mr Kozeny, dubbed the Pirate of Prague, is wanted in the US and the Czech Republic on charges of large-scale fraud.
The Czech government has declared a state of emergency in seven of the
country's 14 regions after severe flooding last week and at the weekend.
It is set to remain in place until midnight next Monday. The regions in
question are South Bohemia, Central Bohemia, Usti, Pardubice, South
Moravia, Olomouc and Zlin.
Meanwhile, evacuation measures in Znojmo, south Moravia have been called off. Thousands of people were forced to leave their homes there last week when the River Dyje burst its banks.
As rescue workers and soldiers continue to work flat out to shore up flood defences around the country, a search is underway for a boy feared drowned in North Bohemia. The six-year-old is believed to have fallen into a rivulet of the River Svatava on Sunday. Seven people are reported to have died due to the floods.
Water levels are dropping on most of the country's swollen rivers, but there have been warnings that warming could lead to more problems in the middle of the week.
The Green Party are gaining more support ahead of June's elections, suggests a poll carried out by the Factum Invenio agency. Some 10.5 percent of respondents in a poll conducted at the end of March said they would vote for the Greens, up from 9.1 percent in the middle of the month. The Civic Democrats continue to lead the polls, with almost 30 percent support, while just over 25 percent said they would vote for the governing Social Democrats.
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.