News in brief for Aug. 14: Top headlines for Czechia on Monday

Strong storms in parts of Bohemia, pork prices on the rise, and more top stories for Monday, Aug. 14, 2023. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 14.08.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 14.08.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

emergency Massive fire at plastics plant closes D5 motorway in Central Bohemia

Traffic on the D5 motorway section in Central Bohemia was restored at 2:45 p.m. following closures due to a massive fire at a plastics production plant in the industrial zone in Žebrák near Beroun. Czech police had announced on the X social network, formerly known as Twitter, that the motorway was closed in both directions between the 34th and 41st kilometers, with drivers being diverted onto alternative routes.

Twenty-five firefighting units are currently at the scene, their efforts hindered by the hot weather. Three firefighters sustained minor injuries, with one suffering burns and two experiencing collapses. Authorities are working to prevent the fire from spreading further, and a chemical laboratory will assess the air quality in the area.

culture Prague 6 rejects Atatürk statue request

The Prague 6 Town Hall has declined a request from Turkish authorities to install a statue of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Turkey's first president, on its grounds. Marek Zeman, the spokesperson for the municipal district, confirmed the decision. The Turkish Ambassador to Prague, Egemen Bağış, had made the request earlier this year to commemorate the centenary of the Turkish Republic. 

The town hall conducted a comprehensive assessment, consulted with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and ultimately decided against granting permission for the statue. The proposed location for the three-meter-high statue was a park near Na Větrníku and Ankarská streets in Břevnov. The decision comes amidst prior protests from the Czech Armenian community due to the Armenian genocide during the Ottoman Empire.

weather This July in Czechia ranks as eighth-warmest since 1962

July in the Czech Republic this year was the eighth warmest since 1961, with an average temperature of 19.6 degrees Celsius, according to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute. Globally, it was the seventh warmest month on record, with an average temperature of 16.9 degrees C, as reported by Europe's Copernicus program.

The warmest July in the Czech Republic was recorded 17 years ago, with an average temperature of 21.3 degrees C. The first half of the summer holidays was slightly warmer in Moravia and Silesia than in Bohemia. In terms of precipitation, July was normal, with 59 millimeters of rain, the equivalent of 66 percent of the normal level.

health Report exposes Czech hospital mismanagement and violations

The Supreme Audit Office (SAO) published a report today revealing that the Czech Ministry of Health distributed CZK 4.9 billion in extraordinary contributions to three teaching hospitals it directly managed between 2019 and 2021, without proper checks on their use. The report states that some hospitals used the contributions for debt relief in an uneconomical manner and violated established conditions. 

The inspection focused on the management of Prague University Hospitals Bulovka, Královské Vinohrady, and St. Anne's University Hospital Brno. The SAO found that the hospitals repeatedly reported financial losses, leading to a one-time contribution of CZK 3.4 billion for debt relief in 2020, while another CZK 1.5 million was reimbursed by the ministry for the purchase of property that the hospitals did not use.

weather Central, eastern Bohemia see strong storms and rain

Central and eastern Bohemia experienced severe thunderstorms with torrential rains, gusty winds, and hail during the night. The Náchod District was particularly affected by the strong storms. Firefighters were actively involved in removing fallen trees and pumping water from flooded houses and basements. The Králové Hradec fire brigade reported 30 incidents associated with the storms.

Areas heavily impacted include Jaroměř, Náchod, and Nový Bydžov. Meteorologists had issued warnings of potential downpours, hail up to 2 centimeters, and wind gusts exceeding 85 kilometers per hour, especially in the far northeast of Bohemia. Storm activity also occurred in other regions such as Olomouc and the eastern part of Pardubice.

sport Czech basketball team loses to Israel in Olympic pre-qualification match

The Czech basketball team suffered a 67-80 defeat yesterday against Israel in the second game of the Olympic pre-qualification tournament in Tallinn. This loss comes after their narrow 77:74 victory over Estonia on Saturday. Despite a strong showing from pivot Martin Kříž with 16 points, Israel's Yam Madar and Bar Timor led their team to victory with 27 and 22 points, respectively.

Czech team coach Diego Ocampo said that the turnovers and offensive rebounds contributed to their defeat, adding that the team needs to prepare better in terms of individual skills. The Czech team's next challenge will be against North Macedonia on Tuesday as they aim to bounce back and secure a spot in the semi-finals.

economy Pork prices on the rise due to higher production prices

The price of pork has been steadily increasing in recent months due to various factors. One reason is the pressure from European politics to reduce emissions and limit breeding, which has affected the availability and production of pork. While pork is still the most popular meat, the Czech Republic is also experiencing a decline in its production. According to the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ), pork production has fallen by 6.7 percent compared to the previous year, and the number of pig slaughters decreased by 6.2 percent.

Analysts had predicted a decrease in production and an increase in prices at the start of this year. European states, following the policy of the EU, have restricted pork breeding to mitigate emissions. Additionally, reduced supply has led to increased reliance on imports, contributing to rising prices. Since March, the price of roast pork has risen by 6 percent and by almost 11 percent year-on-year, according to data from ČSÚ.

culture Brutal Assault music festival draws 17,500 visitors

The 26th annual Brutal Assault music festival of extreme music in Jaroměř's Josefov fortress attracted a total of 20,000 participants, including 17,500 visitors, plus organizers and event staff, according to Pavel Pavlík from the organizing team. The four-day festival, one of Europe's largest metal events, featured over 150 musical groups from the Czech Republic and abroad.

Renowned bands such as Napalm Death, Trivium, In Flames, and Sepultura performed. Despite initial concerns about the weather, the festival proceeded without major incidents. Police monitored traffic and public order around the festival grounds, causing some traffic complications in Josefov. The next edition of the festival is scheduled for Aug. 7-10, 2024.

international Czech-based Indian ran terror cell in Punjab

Three men have been arrested by the Indian police in Punjab on suspicion of terrorism. According to The Times of India news website, local police revealed that an Indian citizen residing in the Czech Republic was running a terror cell in the northern Indian state. During the raid, authorities seized three firearms and a sum of cash.

The arrested individuals, both Canadian permanent residents, were reportedly receiving instructions from Gurdev Singh, who lives in the Czech Republic on terrorism-related activities. Police stated that Singh planned contract killings and attacks to disrupt order. The men are also suspected of the December attack on a police station in Punjab.

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