Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has said there is no danger that rising river levels in areas of Bohemia will lead to floods like those which caused devastation in August. Mr Spidla said on Friday that he was aware of the tension which had arisen over the rising river levels in recent days but reassured the public the situation was being constantly monitored and was under control. New anti-flood measures are being prepared and will draw upon 3.7 billion Czech crowns made available by the European Solidarity Fund, said the prime minister. The worst-hit river at the present time is the Vltava, which should be at it's highest in Prague around 10 o'clock on Friday evening.
Heavy rainfall and thawing snow are not the only factors making life difficult in the Czech Republic: strong winds felled trees around the country on Thursday night, blocking train tracks in several places. A train was derailed near the north Moravian town of Sumperk when it hit a tree which had fallen onto the tracks. Nobody was injured.
Prime Minister Spidla said on Friday he expected key negotiations on finding a successor to President Vaclav Havel to take place after a bicameral vote on January 15. Talks between the parties in parliament have not secured sufficient support for any of the official candidates to win at the first attempt. Mr Spidla has in the past not ruled out changing the constitution to allow a direct election if the January 15 vote fails to find a successor to Mr Havel, who steps down at the beginning of February.
The prime minister has also been telling journalists about his government's preparations for a mid-June referendum on European Union membership, which will be the first referendum in the country's history. Mr Spidla said the coalition's campaign would be informative and of a political character rather than a sales campaign'. Government ministers will explain both the pros and cons of joining the union in the coming months, added Mr Spidla.
Austrian opponents of the Temelin nuclear power station in south Bohemia are into the second day of a "hunger strike" in the Austrian town of Freistadt in protest against the plant, which they say is unsafe. The anti-nuclear activists are due to end their "hunger strike" on Monday.
Prague police have recommended that charges be filed against two men accused of making hoax telephone calls last summer claiming there were bombs at the city's Ruzyne airport. One of the hoax calls was made in June, the other in August. In both cases the airport was evacuated, and in the latter several flights were also cancelled. The two men face up to five years in prison if found guilty of spreading alarm.
Weather forecasters have warned of black ice and snow drifts in the next few days. On Saturday a cold front is due to bring significantly lower temperatures. While on Saturday itself it will be between one and five degrees Celsius, on Sunday temperatures will fall to between minus eight and minus four. Both Saturday and Sunday are expected to be cloudy with rain and snow showers.
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