12 firemen were injured when they tried to contain a chlorine leak in Spolana Neratovice chemical works just 30 kilometres North of Prague. Several dozen kilogrammes of chlorine leaked from Spolana on Friday and was spread by Easterly winds. No casualties among civilians were reported. The accident was caused by a broken pipeline. By Saturday noon, concentration of chlorine in the air was so low that a red alert could be called off. Experts say it will take several days to decontaminate the company and its neighbourhood.
Spolana had problems with chlorine in 1967 and 1968, when a major leak of dioxine seriously injured some 80 employees. Back then, three production lines had to be closed down and sealed. Only one has been re-opened since then.
Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman predicts that unemployment in the Czech Republic could decrease to 7.5 percent by 2002 from the current 9 percent. Mr. Zeman said positive factors expected to contribute to the development include a continuing restructuring of industry, especially in the troubled Northern parts of the country, and an economic revival. The prime minister foresees an acceleration of economic growth to 4 percent in 2002, a level higher than EU average.
The Czech Ministry of Interior has urged Prague citizens to pay increased attention to personal security during the IMF/World Bank session that is to take place in the city in September. The ministry advises people to avoid suspicious situations that could attract attention of the police and to quickly leave venues of suspicious gatherings. Also, the ministry suggests that people do not get involved in opinion exchange with protesters. Ministry officials urge the public to respect all police directions even if these may limit personal freedoms. The interior ministry also warns against watching dramatic developments from close distance, because the police will not be able discriminate when suppressing violence and riots.
Some 20 thousand activists and members of non-governmental organisations are expected to arrive in Prague to protest against the IMF and World Bank annual meeting at the end of September. According to other estimates, the number could reach as much as 50 thousand.
A heavy truck with Polish licence plate collided with a Czech coach near the town of Zhnina in Poland on Saturday. Three Czechs died in the accident, three children had to be taken to hospital. The accident was caused by the Polish truck driver who was drunk. This was another serious road accident in Poland that involved Czech citizens over a short period of time -- on Thursday, two Czechs died in a car crash near Katowitze in Southern Poland.
Latvian president Vaira Vike-Freiberg is to visit the Czech republic next week. She is to meet with the highest state representatives including Prime Minister Milos Zeman and Senate chairwoman Libuse Benesova to discuss Latvian efforts to join Euro-Atlantic structures and Czech experience with the process.
And finally, the weather forecast. We are expecting a cloudy to partially cloudy day with scattered showers, afternoon highs should range from 20 to 24 degrees Celsius. And a brief outlook for the beginning of next week -- it should still be rather cloudy but a little warmer, with highest daytime temperatures around 25 degrees Celsius.
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