Czech news in brief for January 6: Saturday's top headlines

River levels remain high in parts of Czechia, Three Kings charity drive gets underway, and an update on injured people after Prague shooting. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 06.01.2024 08:30:00 (updated on 06.01.2024) Reading time: 6 minutes

Weather Snow warning issued for most of Czechia

Heavy snowfall is forecasted for southern Bohemia, particularly in Český Krumlov, Vimpersk, and Prachatick, where up to 25 centimeters of snow is expected. Other parts of southern Bohemia, as well as the Pilsen region, Moravian-Silesian, Olomouc, and Zlín regions, may see up to 15 centimeters of snow. The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute has issued a snowfall warning for most of the country.

The warning covers the next 24 hours, with potential damage to trees, forest cover, and power lines due to wet snow. Additionally, strong winds up to 65 kilometers per hour are expected in Moravia, and frost or ice formation may occur in various regions, including Prague and the Ústí nad Labem Region, where a high level flood warning also persists.

Crime Prague police combing forests in Jinonice

Dozens of police officers equipped with pickaxes, machetes, and other tools have been conducting a large-scale search in the wooded area on the edge of Prague's Jinonice neighborhood since Saturday morning. Police have not provided specific details but mentioned that the operation is related to an ongoing criminal case.

The search involves personnel from the law enforcement unit, including criminal investigators from Prague's department specializing in serious violent crimes. A police truck is serving as a staff and command vehicle. The exact details of the current case remain undisclosed due to the ongoing investigation.

Shooting Report on police response to shooting to be presented next week

Czech Minister of the Interior Vít Rakušan tells that he expects a report regarding the police intervention at the Faculty of Arts during the recent shooting to be presented next week. Rakušan emphasized the importance of dispelling rumors and speculations via a thorough investigation of the response by the police.

While praising the police and the integrated rescue system for their response to the mass murder, he acknowledged the existence of questions surrounding the intervention. Rakušan revealed that official channels, including the police internal control body, are actively reviewing the intervention second by second. A comprehensive report is expected to be presented next week.

Weather Dense fog complicates traffic at Prague Airport

Prague's Václav Havel Airport faces disruptions in traffic due to dense fog and a malfunction at the weather station this morning. As of 9:20 a.m., eight planes rerouted to other airports have yet to land in Prague. Airport spokeswoman Klára Divišková anticipates an improvement around 10:00 a.m.

The thick fog and a malfunctioning meteorological system complicate conditions, as air traffic controllers are unable to provide complete information to aircrews. The decision on landing locations rests with individual crews. In the first ten months of the previous year, Prague Airport saw a 28 percent year-on-year increase, handling 11.7 million passengers.

Sports Czech tennis star Nosková falls in Brisbane International semis

Nineteen-year-old Czech tennis player Linda Nosková fell short of reaching the Brisbane tennis tournament finals, losing to Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina 3-6, 2-6. Despite starting as the 40th-ranked player globally and winning four matches in the tournament, Nosková couldn't break Rybakinova's serve and lost her own three times.

The defeat is likely to drop Nosková out of the top fifty in the WTA rankings. Rybakina, who hasn't dropped a set in the tournament, advances to the final, facing the winner of the match between top-seeded Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka.

Politics Former president Zeman shares belated Christmas message

In a delayed Christmas message posted on Facebook, Former Czech president Miloš Zeman criticized the country's economic performance, pointing out that it is the only EU member yet to reach pre-coronavirus levels. He identified the Czech Republic's economic performance as the most significant societal problem.

Zeman pointed out the country's inflation rate, the highest in Europe, and the soaring national debt, comparing the situation to over 30 years ago when he criticized the communist regime. He concluded by endorsing the right to civil disobedience as outlined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms.

FLOODS IN 2024 Parts of Czechia continue to face flood alerts

As per the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (ČHMÚ), six areas in the Czech Republic faced the third level of flooding danger (the highest possible) on Friday evening. The River Elbe’s water levels for this year so far peaked in Litoměřice, Děčín (both Ústí nad Labem), and Němčice (Pardubice). Brno’s Svratka River also reached its highest tide levels so far this year, partly due to the release of water from the Brno Reservoir.

Another six areas nationwide had a second-degree flood alert. Dozens of places have a first-level warning, including Prague. In the capital, ongoing anti-flood measures will persist until next week, restricting access to embankments, the arched passage on Divadelní Street, as well as gates to Čertovka and the Four Seasons Hotel. Additionally, ferry services across the Vltava in Prague will remain suspended until further notice.

PRAGUE SHOOTING Nine still in hospital after Prague shooting two weeks ago

Six Prague hospitals are tending to nine injured individuals from the recent Faculty of Arts shooting at Charles University, according to hospital spokespeople. Among the wounded are two citizens of the United Arab Emirates who are receiving care at the Central Military Hospital. The incident caused 27 people to be hospitalized in total, with one person succumbing to their injuries in intensive care. 

At Motol University Hospital, three patients remain stable, while four have been discharged. Královská Vinohrady University Hospital discharged four and transferred one to Thomayer University Hospital. All current inpatients are in stable condition, with none in intensive care.

charity Three Kings collection starts in Czechia

The annual Three Kings collection in the Czech Republic officially got underway Friday afternoon, involving tens of thousands of volunteers collecting donations in cities and towns until Jan. 14. In Prague, actors portraying the Three Kings rode through the city on camels on Friday, crossing Charles Bridge.

Organized by Charita Česká republika, the charity event follows the tradition of the Three Kings carol, aiming to aid the elderly, homeless, terminally ill, and those facing hardships. Last year's collection amassed over CZK 161 million – its most successful outcome ever. Contributions can be made through bank transfers or donation messages. Money can also be donated through collection boxes at various shops, offices, and churches.

OBITUARY Renowned Czech astronomer passes away

The Czech Astronomical Society has reported the passing of Luboš Kohoutek, the famed astronomer who discovered Kohoutek's comet. The international media reported it as the "comet of the century" – it was observed in December 1973 and January 1974. He died at 88 in Bergedorf, Germany. He is also known for finding 75 asteroids and five comets. Kohoutek focused on planetary nebulae, emigrating to Germany in 1970.

He spent a record 290 shifts at the European Southern Observatory. Kohoutek's persistence led to discovering celestial bodies and assigning Czech names to planets like Hus, Neruda, and Moravia. Additionally, planet 1850 was named Kohoutek by a colleague. Kohoutek has published 162 scientific works in total.

HEALTH Czechia sees highest scarlet fever rates in 10 years

According to a report published by the State Health Institute (SZÚ) Friday, the Czech Republic saw a decade-high amount of diagnosed scarlet fever cases last year, alongside surges in scabies, legionellosis, diphtheria, and whooping cough. Scarlet fever cases soared from 1,150 to nearly 7,000 within two years, marking an unusual peak.

Speaking to Czech Television, epidemiologist Kateřina Fabiánová attributes this surge to weakened immunity post-Covid-19, making the population more susceptible to previously suppressed infections like streptococcus. Other European countries report similar increases in scarlet fever rates. Penicillin remains the primary treatment for the illness. The SZÚ anticipates a decline in streptococcal diseases as viral infections eventually decrease in the coming months amid the arrival of spring in less than three months.

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