The region of Western Bohemia was hit by a strong windstorm in the early hours of Saturday that broke trees and left some 4,000 households without electricity, the authorities said. One person was killed by a falling tree near Karlovy Vary on Saturday afternoon. The energy producer ČEZ said around half of its customers in the area were cut off, and declared state of emergency in three districts. Falling trees also obstructed roads and railways. The authorities said that several houses were flooded by rainwater but no one was injured in the storm.
The Czech Road and Motorway Authority is planning to lower the speed limits on parts of Czech highways because of the current heat wave, the daily Lidové noviny reported on Saturday. The heat damaged two parts of the motorway network earlier this week where the road surfaced bulged out. The officials are now putting together a list of other potentially dangerous spots, and will ask on Monday the Transport Ministry to lower the speed limit of 130 km/h in these passages. However, if the weather cools down, no such measure will be necessary, the road authority said.
The new Czech finance minister, Miroslav Kalousek, told the daily Právo on Saturday he would remove tax breaks on mortgages. The change should be included in a new tax bill that should enter into force in two years’ time. Mr Kalousek said he saw no reason why socially challenged people, who cannot afford mortgages anyway, should contribute to mortgages of people with higher income. Under the current legal arrangement, people can add mortgages to their tax base, and pay lower taxes as a result. The new centre-right government had announced earlier it also wanted to lower state incentives for individual building saving accounts.
Czechs spent on average some 5,500 crowns, or around 280 US dollars, on medical drugs in 2009, the highest amount ever, according to a government report released on Saturday. The report also registered a decrease in the number of packages sold. The State Institute for Drug Control said Czechs began buying modern, more expensive medicaments. The institute also said that the number of new pharmacies that opened in the Czech Republic last year decreased, with around 2,300 pharmacies working in the country.
British adventurer Paul Whitaker finished a charity swim up the Vltava River on Saturday. Mr Whitaker swam 175 kilometres upstream, having started in the south Bohemian city of České Budějovice 19 days earlier. Entitled Vltava Assistance 2010, the charity event raised funds for the Czech NGO Assistance that helps handicapped people. The British swimmer said the journey was exhausting but that it made a nice holiday.
Hygiene inspectors found a great majority of children’s summer camps in the Czech Republic to be in good condition, the Czechs news agency reported on Saturday. The inspectors only found minor problems. The exceptions included a camp near the town of Opava in the north-east of country, where children were staying in “horrible conditions”, the agency reported.
Ahead of the first game of the new year of the top Czech football division, police detained 75 football fans in Prague on Friday night at protest against the moving of their club, Bohemians 1905, to another stadium in the capital. The fans fired flares and petards on their way from the Bohemians’ stadium to its new home, the nearby Eden stadium which hosts city rival, Slavia Prague. The move is rejected by fans of both sides.
The Prague clubs of Bohemians and Slavia kicked off the new year of the top Czech football division on Friday with a 1:1 draw. The game took place at the Eden stadium, which is now the home of both sides. Bohemians took an early lead against Slavia with a nice shot by Bartek in the first minute. Slavia then took the initiative and Kisel equalized 16 minutes later. The rest of the game saw Bohemians on the defensive but Slavia were not able to convert any of several opportunities.
Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová reached the first WTA event finals in her career on Saturday after she beat Patty Schnyder of Switzerland 6:2, 6:0 in the semi-finals of EMC Prague Open. The 24-year-old Czech will face Hungary’s Agnes Szavay. Záhlavová-Strýcová said she made very few mistakes in the semi-finals, and said she felt wonderful after reaching the first WTA finals of her career.