Czech morning news in brief: top headlines for March 29, 2021

Czech billionaire's helicopter goes down in Alaska, police detain river boat protesters through the weekend, and thousands participate in clean-up efforts. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 29.03.2021 09:47:00 (updated on 29.03.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

Czech billionaire among 5 killed in helicopter crash near Alaskan glacier

Czech billionaire Petr Kellner died in a helicopter accident in Alaska on Saturday, the New York Times reports and a PPF spokeswoman confirmed today. Kellner, the richest man in the Czech Republic whose net worth has been estimated at $17.5 billion by Forbes, was PPF's majority owner. Alaskan police named Kellner, 56, among the victims of the crash that claimed the lives of five people including Benjamin Larochaix, 50, also of the Czech Republic and the pilot. A survivor is in serious but stable condition in a hospital in anchorage. The helicopter crashed near the Knik Glacier in Alaska. The group was said to have been on a heli-skiing excursion. The cause of the crash of the Airbus AS350B3, belonging to the company Soloy Helicopters and flying from the Alaskan town of Wasilla, is still unknown. Emergency responders were alerted to the possibility of the downed chopper at 22:00 on Saturday when the aircraft failed to return to its landing space. Witnesses reported the wreckage near Knik where the victims and the only survivor were eventually found. Alaska State Troopers said that the National Transportation Safety Board would conduct an investigation to determine what caused the crash. 

Police blocking boats with anti-lockdown protesters in Prague

Police on Sunday blocked seven boats headed to a protest against school closures along Prague's Vltava River. Organized by the anti-lockdown movement We Will Open Czechia-Chcipl PES (DOG Croaked), the protests were meant to express support for teachers and parents and warn of the government abuse of the state of emergency, which has been extended until April 11, and unjust anti-coronavirus measures. Police officers halted the seven boats that left the Dvořák embankment Sunday afternoon at the sluice in the Smíchov district around 17:30. Protesters were kept there for two hours and let go only after a thorough inspection of the boats. A Prague police spokeswoman said after the checks that police had reported several dozen people to the City Hall for administrative proceedings on suspicion of violating the anti-epidemic restrictions. 200 people took part in the protest, 20-30 on each boat. The protest was symbolically staged on the Day of Teachers.

Census deadline extended due to technical error

People will be able to fill in online forms for the Czech census until May 11, despite the original April 9 deadline the Czech Statistical Office (CSU) said in a press release Sunday. The CSU extended the deadline due to the temporary collapse of the electronic system after its launch on Saturday. Those who do not fill in online forms will be able to use paper forms between April 17 and May 11. They can be picked up in post offices or CSU field workers will deliver them to homes. A reported one million people had participated in the census by Sunday afternoon, filling in some 500,000 online forms. The census electronic system is now running smoothly. The launch of the online census from Saturday night was accompanied by technical problems Saturday morning. The electronic system collapsed after 8:00 due to a defect in filling in addresses, leading to the subsequent overloading of database servers. It resumed operation after 17:00 on Saturday.

Štyrský painting auctioned for CZK 17.9 million in Prague

Metamorphosis, a painting by Czech surrealist artist Jindřich Štyrský (1899-1942), has been auctioned for CZK 17.9 million in a Prague auction; its starting price was 6.5 million, a spokesperson or 1. Art Consulting told ČTK. The auction of Czech and foreign modern art was held in the Topic Salon gallery. Works of art for some CZK 70 million crowns were sold at the auction, almost 80 percent of the 177 offered items. Potential customers could take part via the website or by phone, as personal participation was impossible due to the anti-coronavirus restrictions. Anti-epidemic measures did not hit the Czech art market as much as experts expected last year. Collectors and investors spent more than CZK 1 million at the auctions in the Czech Republic making 2020 the most successful year in the history of the Czech art market.

Up to 50,000 people took part in the Let's Clean Up the Czechia event

The Let's Clean Up Czechia event, which took place on March 27 and 28, was attended by an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 volunteers. This year's event was organized a bit differently due to the measures in place against the spread of Covid-19. Areas were not cleaned en masse, but rather individually. Individuals or families cleaned up litter in close to 1,000 places around the country, Radek Janoušek from the Ukliďme Česko association told ČTK which together with the Czech Union for Nature Conservation, is the organizer of the annual event. According to Janoušek, plastic bags, packaging for snacks and drinks and other waste appeared in some 45,000 garbage bags distributed to volunteers. A significant number of used face masks and disposable gloves were among the detritus collected this year from the streets and green areas of the Czech Republic.

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