Czech foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek announced Friday that he was considering making a personal trip to Beirut, capital of Lebanon, in light of new unspecified information regarding the hunt for five Czechs who went missing in the country last Saturday. The announcement came following a Friday meeting of a government crisis team tasked with coordinating the case. Zaorálek, who said he first needed to verify the new information, also announced that the identities of the missing Czechs would be made public in the next few days, thus enabling police to undertake formal missing persons procedures. The foreign minister also confirmed he had held talks with his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil. Investigators in Lebanon reportedly believe the presumed abduction, which occurred in Kefraya in the Beqaa Valley area of the country near the Syrian border, has a criminal component. Two Czech representatives are already in Lebanon assisting with the investigation, Zaorálek also confirmed.
Three people remain in a critical condition in Ostrava Teaching Hospital following Wednesday's collision between a high-speed train and a truck parked at a crossing near the town of Studénka in north Moravia. According to Tomáš Oborný, spokesperson for the hospital, an additional three people are also being treated for less serious injuries. The accident has so far claimed three lives with a total of 18 injured. Meanwhile, authorities announced the re-opening of the busy train line between Prague and Ostrava where the accident occurred, although restrictions remain in place, including a 40 kph speed limit. Police arrested the 50-year-old Polish truck driver involved in the collision on Friday. The man is reported to have confessed to illegally driving through Studénka to avoid paying a toll on the nearby D1 motorway, which links to Poland. If convicted of endangering public safety through negligence he faces up to ten years in prison.
The State Veterinary Administration (SVS), which is tasked with ensuring the safety of animal products in the Czech Republic, found oversights at 15 percent of restaurants, according to its latest interim report. Prague was found to have the greatest number of problem restaurants, with 34 percent of checks revealing shortcomings. The SVS says it has carried out 6,243 inspections of restaurants and diners so far this year. Of the 15 percent of facilities found wanting, the most common problems were lack of proper documentation regarding meat origins, and also shortcomings regarding hygiene - including insufficient monitoring of expiration dates. The SVS is newly empowered to carry out such inspections as of 2015; it has so far issued 3 million crowns worth of fines.
Education minister Kateřina Valachová, who assumed her post in June, has reached an agreement with finance minister and deputy PM Andrej Babiš to secure additional funding for education, according to Hospodářské noviny. Under the deal, Valachová will gain an additional four billion crowns, including 800 million for higher education, 250 million for education centres, and 1.5 billion to cover increased pupil numbers at primary schools. The minister told the paper that she had successfully battled against a perception that the increased funds were unnecessary.
Thursday saw the greatest number of car accident fatalities reported in the Czech Republic since the start of the year, according to police data. Ten deaths were recorded, including three men killed in a single accident involving a van crashing into oncoming traffic in Prunéřov, in the Chomutov area in north-west Bohemia. Until yesterday, March 22 was recorded as the deadliest day on Czech roads this year, with eight fatalities.
Police in the town of Uhy, north of Prague, are undertaking a thorough search of a local dump after receiving an anonymous tip-off about a local mother discarding the body of her newborn baby. Dozens of police and fire-fighters are involved in the search. Authorities declined to comment over conflicting reports suggesting that a mother either gave birth to a stillborn baby which was thrown in the garbage, or that the mother committed infanticide and then disposed of the body.
A number of active Czech military units saw their footwear fall to pieces during training exercises, reports Radiožurnál. The army has reportedly documented around 150 such cases, in which soldiers were forced to improvise during training, taping up loosened soles on their standard black army-issue boots. The military has declined to speculate on the cause of the disintegrations but has promised affected soldiers will receive replacement boots within the month.
Uherské Hradiště Summer Film School kicked-off on Friday and will be screening dozens of films to the public until August 1. The event, now in its 41st year, boasts a number of special guests including Czech director Juraj Herz, German director Christoph Hochhäusler, and Finnish director Mika Kaurismäki. On the itinerary is an overview of Finnish cinema; screenings of Alfred Hitchcock's early silent films accompanied by live music; and some lesser-known films featuring Czech actor Rudolf Hrušínský. A special "Visegrad Horizon" section will also screen films from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. Last year's festival was attended by a reported 6,247 people; organisers say more than 3,000 visitors have already been accredited for this year's event.
In the United States city of Chicago, memorials will be held for one of the disasters in the country, the sinking of the SS Eastland steamboat on July 24, 1915. Of the 844 who died, around 220 were estimated to be Czech immigrants. Many of the Czechs were employees of the Western Electric company who were taking the steamboat on a Saturday picnic. The memorial events will include the lighting of candles, the performance of a play about the disaster, and appearances by some of the descendants of those who perished 100 years ago.
In football, Mladá Boleslav’s hopes of European competition disappeared in spite of a 1:0 away win at Strömsgodset on Thursday night. After the 1:2 home defeat a week earlier, the Czech team go out on away goals in the prequalifying competition for the Europa League. The sole goal of the match was scored in the 31st minute by Aleš Čermák, who is on loan from Sparta Prague since the summer. The Czech team failed to capitalise on their few other chances in the game.
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