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People pay homage to student martyr Jan Zajíc

Several dozen people gathered on Wenceslas Square on Sunday to pay homage to the memory of student martyr Jan Zajíc, who set himself on fire to protest against growing public apathy to the Soviet led-invasion in 1968, just a month after student Jan Palach made the same sacrifice in an effort to rouse the nation.

Zajíc, who felt that further protest actions were needed, set himself on fire on the 21st anniversary of the communist putsch February 25, 1948.

A travelling exhibition reflecting his life and legacy opened in his home town of Vítkov on Friday.

Further commemorative events are planned for the anniversary itself, on Monday.

Social Democrat leader stands up for his minister

Social Democratic Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček has said he sees no reason to make any changes in the cabinet as regards his own party’s nominees.

In an interview for the daily Právo, ahead of the party’s election conference next week, Mr. Hamáček indicated that he would not be pushed into dismissing Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček with whose performance he was perfectly satisfied.

Minister Petricek’s pro-European foreign policy has come under fire from President Zeman and the Communist Party whose support is vital to the minority government.

ČSA flight to Seoul forced to make emergency landing in Prague

A Czech Airlines flight to Seoul was forced to turn back late Saturday night due to technical problems, a spokesman for Prague’s Vaclav Havel International Airport told journalists.

The plane turned back three hours into the flight citing a suspected fuel leak. The emergency landing was reportedly smooth and no one suffered any injuries.

According to the news site Zdopravy.cz the suspicion of a fuel leak was confirmed and the emergency landing closed the main runway for 40 minutes forcing a Ryanair flight from Edinburgh to land in Brno.

Investigation into rail accidents

An investigation is underway into three separate rail accidents that occurred at Czech Railways this week.

On Tuesday a runaway train covered over six kilometres without a train driver in Moravia, travelling over two bridges and a tunnel as terrified passengers pulled at the emergency break to no avail. It eventually stopped when the track went on an upward incline. Miraculously, none of the 11 passengers were injured.

On Friday, an express train and passenger train stopped within 34 metres of each other on the same track, preventing an accident at the last minute and on Saturday morning a locomotive crashed into another in České Budejovice.

Early reports suggest the accidents were caused by technical problems and human error.

Czech killed by avalanche in Austrian Alps

A Czech mountaineer was killed by an avalanche in the Austrian Alps on Saturday, local media reported. The 27-year-old was hiking with his Czech friend in Austria's western Tyrol region when an avalanche hit. The other mountaineer is reported to be unhurt.

The death of a Czech national in the Austrian Alps was confirmed by Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman Robert Řehák, who urged Czechs in the region to exercise caution since the danger of avalanches in the region is currently extremely high.

Masopust celebrations culminating ahead of Ash Wednesday

Masopust (Mardi Gras) celebrations are culminating in many parts of the country ahead of Ash Wednesday.

The annual carnival in which people dress up in masks and costumes traditionally takes place between the Epiphany and Ash Wednesday, which falls on March 6th this year, when the pre-Easter forty day fast begins.

Although few Czechs observe the fast these days, the Masopust celebrations which were seen as the last chance to eat heartily and make merry for over a month, are extremely popular.

Weather forecast

The start of the week should be clear to partly cloudy with day temperatures between 9 and 13 degrees Celsius.