Daily news summary News

01-03-2008

Hurricane Emma claims two lives

A hurricane-force wind, dubbed Emma, which swept across the Czech Republic, claimed two lives on Saturday. An eleven-year-old girl was killed by a falling tree in the village of Líbeznice, Central Bohemia, on Saturday morning. Rescue workers were unable to save her life after she had sustained fatal injuries to her head and chest. An eighty-year-old man, a Catholic priest, was killed by falling metal plates torn away from a roof in the village of Sadská near the town of Nymburk.

Severe weather causes blackouts, traffic disruptions around country

Many parts of the country were hit by blackouts on Saturday, as strong winds and hailstorms knocked down high-voltage pylons and falling trees damaged power line cables. The power company ČEZ has declared a state of emergency in four regions of the Czech Republic: the Pilsen, Karlovy Vary, Hradec Králové and Pardubice regions. Tens of thousands of people in the country are left without electricity due to six failures on very high-voltage lines.

Railway traffic was suspended between Prague and the Moravian town of Olomouc due to power cuts on the line between Česká Třebová and Kolín. Traffic on the R1 highway connecting Prague and the northern town of Liberec was halted on Saturday as a high voltage pylon fell across the road. The country’s fire fighters were called to over 1200 emergencies on Saturday, the busiest day for them since last year’s hurricane Kyrill.

Prague hit by strong wind, hailstorm

Six families had to be evacuated from a high-rise block of flats in the Prague district of Letňany after a powerful gust of wind tore down the roof of the building and damaged the uppermost floor. According to forecasts, Prague has yet to experience the most severe conditions around 8 pm on Saturday when hurricane-force winds are expected to hit the capital.

Neo-Nazis march through Pilsen

Around 200 ultra-right radicals marched through the west Bohemian city of Pilsen on Saturday afternoon. The scheduled event was delayed due to traffic disruptions caused by strong winds, and attendance was lower than expected. An estimated 500 opponents of the march, mainly anarchists and left-wing activists had gathered in the city to protest against it. The far-right radicals originally planned to hold a demonstration in the city in January but their march was banned by Pilsen mayor Pavel Rödl. However, a court ruled he had overstepped his powers in doing so. The city hall had not banned Saturday’s march but around 1000 police officers were on standby to prevent any clashes between the far-right radicals and the left-wing protestors.

Flood alert declared in south Bohemia

Local authorities in south Bohemia declared a high-degree flood alert in several areas on Saturday morning as water levels on rivers in the Šumava Mountains and the Klatovy district rose following heavy rains on Friday night. Meteorologists expect the Vltava River in the region to swell, too, as heavy rains are expected to continue throughout the weekend.

Architect Kaplický to receive compensation if his National Library project fails

Saturday’s Lidové noviny writes that the Czech-born architect Jan Kaplický, author of the winning design for a new National Library building in Prague, will be entitled to roughly 5 million crowns (300,000 USD) in compensation if he decides to pull out of the project. The Czech National Library which organised an international competition for the design of its new building, says financial compensations are stipulated by the statutes of such international competitions. Mr Kaplický’s futuristic design, nicknamed “the Blob” has been the subject of heated debates over the past year. Among its strongest opponents are Prague mayor Pavel Bém and the Czech president Václav Klaus.

Právo: ultra-right extremists keep tabs on “anti-fascists”

Saturday’s edition of the daily Právo writes that right-wing groups in the Czech Republic are compiling lists of politicians known for their anti-fascist stands. The papers writes that ultra-right extremists use several websites to collect information on people with anti-fascist stances, among them politicians, experts on extremism, and political commentators. According to Právo, the list includes such people as Prague mayor Pavel Bém, Senate chairman Přemysl Sobotka, the head of the Communist Party Vojtěch Filip, and a number of political scientists, journalists and news photographers.

Škrlová’s lawyer to demand her release from custody

The lawyer of Barbora Škrlová, the Czech woman charged with identity fraud after posing as a 12-year old girl in the Czech Republic and a 13-year old boy in Norway, says he is going to demand that his client should be released from custody in the coming days. He will also demand that her prosecution over alleged torture of Ondřej, the son of her foster mother, should be halted. Ms Škrlová faces up to eight years in prison if found guilty of torturing the boy. He lawyer maintains she did not act on her own will but was forced to perform the acts of torture.

Czech asylum seekers allegedly appear in Canada

The ČTK news agency reports that Czech citizens applying for asylum in Canada and abusing its social system have again appeared in Canada following the recent lifting of Canadian visas for Czechs. If the number of Czech asylum seekers increases considerably and exceeds the set limit there is a threat that Canada would reimpose visa requirements for Czechs. According to a Czech Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Canada does not view the current situation as alarming and is not considering reintroducing visas for Czechs. Canada lifted visas for Czech citizens last November. The country imposed visa requirements for Czechs in 1997 following an influx of Czech asylum seekers, mostly Romanies.

Weather

The rest of the weekend is going to be partly cloudy with daytime temperatures between 7 and 10 degrees Celsius. More strong winds and thunderstorms are expected on Sunday throughout the country. Individual gusts in mountainous areas may reach up to 144 kilometres per hour.

01-03-2008