Over a week after a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Southeast Asia,
one Czech has been confirmed dead and the number of Czechs still
unaccounted for remains at 15. There is strong suspicion that seven of
them are also dead. The Czech government has pledged to donate 15 million
crowns, eight million of which has already been released, for immediate
relief to the affected areas. A further 200 million crowns (6.7 million
euros) is to be offered for the restoration of the regions.
Czech charitable organisations have raised over one hundred million crowns (over 3 million euros) and the 19 percent VAT deducted from donor SMS messages will also be given to Asia. Some Czech banks have decided to forgo certain service charges on donations.
Of the Czech tourists who have returned from the stricken areas, eleven were taken to Prague's Bulovka hospital to undergo thorough medical check-ups. Four of them, suffering from diarrhoea, were hospitalised after doctors feared they had contracted infectious diseases. On Thursday, all patients were confirmed healthy.
The Czech supermodel, Petra Nemcova, who survived the tsunami disaster in Thailand with serious injuries, will arrive in Prague on Thursday night. The 25-year-old swimsuit model held onto a palm tree for eight hours before she could be rescued and taken to hospital with a pelvic fracture and internal injuries. Petra Nemcova will continue her recovery in the Czech Republic. Her boyfriend, British photographer Simon Atlee, is still missing.
A second group of children who survived the three-day hostage crisis at a school in Beslan, southern Russia, last week will arrive in the Czech Republic next week for a recuperative visit. The children will be staying at a sanatorium for four weeks to help them recover from shock. They were supposed to have arrived on Wednesday but the Russian Red Cross refused to pay for their airline tickets. The national air carrier Czech Airlines will send a special plane for them next week.
The Czech Republic joined other European countries on Wednesday in a day
of mourning for the victims of the tsunami disaster in South Asia. Flags
flew at half mast, sirens sounded across the country at noon and Czechs
held a three-minute silence to pay respect to the 150,000 dead.
The number of Czechs still unaccounted for has dropped to 16, but there are fears that seven of them have died. Officially only one Czech victim has been confirmed.
Some Czech banks have decided to give up certain service charges on donations to Asia, among them CSOB, Ceska sporitelna, Komercni banka and HVB which manage the accounts of major Czech aid organisations. As a result hundreds of thousands of crowns more will be sent to the affected regions. However, the banks do not plan to cancel fees on charity payments in the future. The Czech government said on Tuesday that the 19-percent VAT deducted from donor SMS messages will also be given to Asia. Mobile phone operators say they will give up their service charge, too.
Following a Cabinet session on Tuesday the Foreign Minister Cyril
Svoboda said the government was prepared to earmark up to 200 million
crowns (6.7 million euros) towards the restoration of the devastated
region. Last week the Czech government pledged 15 million crowns for
immediate relief to the tsunami disaster area. Eight million has
already been released.
By Wednesday Czechs have raised more than 90 million crowns (3 million euros) in individual donations to public collections called by aid organisations.
A nine year old Czech girl who was seriously injured in the tsunami disaster has been transported to a Czech hospital. The girl suffered serious head injuries in a collision with a boat propeller during the disaster and was operated on in Thailand. Doctors report that her condition is stable. According to the latest information 17 Czechs remain unaccounted for, six are feared dead. The country has one confirmed casualty - a twenty four year old woman. Two Czech women who are still getting treatment in Thai hospitals are expected to return home this week.