A fire in a family home in the Ořechovka neighbourhood in Střešovice, Prague, claimed the lives of two elderly women, aged 87 and 92, early Thursday morning. Why the fire broke out is unknown but investigators are treating the case as one of negligence resulting in death. Emergency workers at the scene found both women already unconscious from smoke inhalation and were unable to save either. On Thursday afternoon, the Czech News Agency reported the women who died may have been renowned former opera soprano Ludmila Dvořáková and her sister Květoslava. Neither identity, however, has been officially confirmed.
A court has wrapped up an arbitration case between the engineering and construction company IDS (Inženýring dopravních staveb) and the city of Prague, ruling that the city must pay 183 million crowns plus interest owed the firm for work on the Blanka tunnel complex. The news was confirmed by Deputy Mayor Petr Dolínek. The interest, meanwhile, amounts to just under 14 million. The deputy mayor said an arbitration case was the only way forward in the disagreement over work conducted and monies owed; he stressed that while he regretted the high amount, it was less than the 300 million IDS had sought. A spokesman for IDS confirmed the company was satisfied by the result. Both sides will still have to sort out other invoices which still remain unpaid, the Czech News Agency noted.
Thirty-one Iraqi pilots have begun training on L-159 fighter jets in the Czech Republic, Deputy Chief of the general Staff of the Armed Forces František Maleninský and Defence Minister Martin Stropnický confirmed. Training on the jets could take over a year; the pilots are to be joined by ground crews who will be given maintenance training. Earlier this year, the Czech Republic agreed to a 750 million crown deal with Iraq on the purchase of 15 L-159s the Czechs no longer need. The price was later adjusted to 780 million due to fluctuation in currency exchange.
A US military convoy, numbering around 100 vehicles and several hundred military personnel, will likely travel through the Czech Republic and neighbouring Slovakia in September to take part in a NATO ground forces military exercise in Hungary. The news was revealed by Czech Defence Minister Martin Stropnický, who said the announcement was tentative and that full details of the transfer were still to be discussed. US troops are expected to spend less than 48 hours in all on Czech soil, after they depart a US base in Vilseck, Germany. In March of this year, a similar convoy but greater in strength, dubbed the Dragoon Ride, travelled through the Czech Republic following operations in the Baltic States.
Further inspection of a Pendolino train badly damaged in a tragic head-on collision in Moravia suggests that only the undercarriage of the lead car is likely be salvaged and that the rest of the car could be beyond repair. The head of Prague's Track Vehicles Depot, Miroslav Kupec, confirmed the news. Damage to the vehicle in the tragic collision in Studénka, Moravia, has been estimated at 150 million crowns but could have been considerably higher had the train's driver not braked heavily. In the accident, a Polish truck driver drove onto the track, allegedly ignoring warning signals; the crash killed three people. Representatives of Czech Railways, insurance companies as well the manufacturer of the Pendolino, Alstom, have been meeting to work out the eventual cost of repairs.
The government has agreed to a plan for the general overhaul of eight Sokol helicopters as well as the continuation of standard service repairs of all ten used by the military up until 2021. The general overhaul and repairs (but also spare parts and training of flight and repair crews) are expected to cost the Defence Ministry around one billion crowns. The Sokol copters are used primarily in air rescue, or search and rescue, missions as well as within the Medevac programme.
A silvery gibbon female at Prague Zoo, has given birth to a healthy baby - the first born in captivity in the Czech Republic. The parents are the female Alangalang and male Flip, both ten years old, who were acquired by the zoo last year. Alangalang arrived in Prague from Howletts, England, and Flip from Munich. Both take excellent care of their young, Prague Zoo said. In the wild, silvery gibbons live on Java and rank as the most endangered of primates.
Czech Gripen jets have begun protecting Icelandic airspace, a mission which will run until August 25. Four of the Swedish-leased jets will patrol the skies over the country while a fifth jet is being kept in reserve. Czech pilots are guarding airspace over Iceland for a second time; the Czech military also served in similar missions in the Baltic states as a member of NATO. On Wednesday, the Czechs took over duties from the Royal Canadian Air Force, whose pilots will now reportedly take part in airstrikes against the terrorist group Islamic State.
In football, Czech club Jablonec lost 0:1 in their initial home leg of the third prequalifying round of the Europa League against Copenhagen. The sole goal of the match was struck from almost 25 metres by winger Benjamin Verbič in the 51st minute. Jablonec, which had a handful of scoring opportunities in the first half, complicated their chances an equalizer after Stanislav Tecl was red carded in the 69th minute.
Stricter rules for the financing of political parties were agreed by the Cabinet. The proposed measures include a 3 million crown ceiling on donations to a party from an individual or company. The Ministry of Interior, which drew up the proposal, had been pressing for a lower limit of 2 million crowns. The proposal also seeks to clamp down on the increasing use of political institutions under the guise of non-profit organisations. The proposal calls for them not to be financed in future by a single party. Their operation will also be supervised by a newly created authority tasked with overseeing the financing of political parties. Financing oversight was previously carried out by a parliamentary committee and frequently criticized for its laxity.