Two people were killed and three injured on Wednesday morning when a Prague streetcar derailed and collided with waiting pedestrians. Tram no. 22 derailed as it made a right turn at Prague's busy Charles Square, its rear wagon hitting those on foot. A 59-year-old man and a 64-year-old woman did not survive the accident. Two people are in hospital with serious injuries. The police are investigating the cause of the accident.
The body of one more Czech victim of the Indian Ocean disaster has been identified in Thailand. This brings the number of confirmed Czech victims to four. Three more Czechs are missing in Thailand and one in Sri Lanka but it is believed that none of them are alive.
The Czech cabinet has reached a decision on a strategy for increasing public awareness on the EU constitution prior to a possible referendum. The campaign will be headed by the prime minister's office, though the Ministry for Foreign Affairs had expressed an interest. It is estimated that the campaign, which would begin this year and last into 2006, will cost almost 10 million US dollars. The campaign will be run mostly through the media, but it is unclear whether it will be strictly informative or in open support of the constitution treaty.
A poll released by the STEM agency has shown that voter preferences for the ruling Social Democratic Party have continued to fall. The poll suggests the party would place 3rd if elections were held today, garnering a little over 13 percent of the vote, behind the Communist Party at 2nd, with 18 percent, and the opposition Civic Democrats at 1st, with around 35 percent of the vote.
The Association for Health Care Insurance Consumers has released figures showing the country's health services spent more than one quarter of their funds on patients' medication last year. According to the association, expenses for medication have risen six-fold since 1992, with consumption rising two-fold. Last year some 52 billion crowns - around 2.3 billion U.S., from expenses of around 200 billion crowns, were spent on medication.
An Irish investment and development company, Markland, has bought Kotva - the popular Prague department store built under Communism in 1975. Markland is estimated to have paid more than 67 million US dollars for the store, located in central Prague. Company representatives told journalists on Wednesday that they were confident they could raise consumer interest to pre-1989 levels, when Kotva was Czechoslovakia's most visited shopping centre.
Freestyle aerials skier Ales Valenta has renewed a back injury while training ahead of a World Championship race in Finland. The gold medal winner from Salt Lake City 2002 was in pain and hospitalised at a facility near the town of Kuusam.
Milder weather has arrived and is expected to continue over the next few days, with daytime temperatures of around 15 degrees Celsius. Thursday should be partly cloudy, Friday will see a possibility of light rain.
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