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Finance Minister says draft state budget has president's approval

Finance Minister Andrej Babiš met for roughly four hours with President Zeman at Lány Chateau on Saturday to discuss his state budget proposal for 2016. After their meeting, the finance minister told journalists the draft budget had Mr Zeman's support. The president had called on Mr Babiš not to bow to pressure to increase the deficit. This year, the deficit is estimated at 100 billion crowns and next year should not surpass 70 billion. But government ministries have asked for 38 billion crowns more than is available in the current proposal. The opposition Civic Democrats have criticized the state budget proposal for relying on a deficit during a period of economic growth; party leader Petr Fiala critised the centre-left government for raising benefits and salaries for civil servants, saying that his party would instead have tried to lower the deficit as well as to reduce taxes.

Damaged Pendolino arrives in capital

A Pendolino train which was badly damaged in a head-on collision with a truck on the tracks last Wednesday, has completed its journey to Prague, where experts will try and retrieve additional recording equipment still missing and assess how much of the train can be salvaged. Experts from the Italian manufacturer are also due to examine the wreckage. Last Wednesday, the Pendolino smashed at full speed into a transport truck caught on the tracks in Studénka. Had the truck's driver tried to break through the barrier, the accident might still have been averted. Three people lost their lives.

Former head of Czech Philharmonic and aide to Václav Havel, Ladislav Kantor, dies at age of 69

The former head of Czech Philharmonic as well as aide to Václav Havel, Ladislav Kantor, has died at the age of 69. Kantor was the co-founder and singer for CK Vocal. Post-1989, he worked at Prague Castle for dissident turned president Václav Havel. He headed the Philharmonic from 1993 - 1995 and was involved in the project Prague - City of Culture 2000. The news of his death was made public on Sunday by his friend and fellow performer Michal Prokop.

Meteorologists lift countrywide fire warning

Meteorologists from the country's Hydro-Meteorological Institute have lifted a countrywide fire warning following rainfall in places on Saturday. The rain somewhat improved conditions in what has been the Czech Republic's longest drought since 2003. However, officials have still warned locals not to smoke while in nature nor for vacationers or others to light campfires.

Plzeň hospital treats some 80 people for stomach problems, diarrhea

A hospital in Plzeň has treated some 80 people suffering stomach problems and diarrhea, the Czech News Agency reports. Of those, 30 were hospitalised. Medical tests revealed the nature of the infection: salmonella in spaghetti at a meal preperation and delivery service which sent out 140 portions on Friday. The hospital said it has now only seen a few new cases, suggesting most of those affected had already been treated.

Four pedestrians seriously injured at crossing in Jesenice

Four pedestrians - two of them children - were seriously injured at a crossing in Jesenice on Sunday and were transferred to hospital by three helicopters, a spokeswoman for the emergency services confirmed. The accident happened around noon. According to the police, a 33-year-old motorist swung into the oncoming lane to avoid hitting a car which had slowed to a stop in front of her. In the opposite lane, the pedestrians were struck. A breathalyser test revealed the motorist was not driving under the influence of alcohol.

Czech football squad positive about World Cup draw

Members of the Czech national football team have suggested they are fairly happy with Saturday's World Cup Preliminary draw for qualifying for the 2018 World Cup to be hosted by Russia. Forward Tomáš Necid and defender Tomáš Sivok, for example, agreed the group was "playable". The Czech Republic is in the same group as reigning world champion Germany, and also Northern Ireland, Norway, San Marino and Azerbaijan. Their first match of the campaign will be against Northern Ireland on September 4, 2016.