AS OF July 1, tourists will bear the cost of search and rescue operations they require the Mountain Rescue Service (HZS) to conduct, excluding the costs covered by health insurance. Also, anyone who disobeys HZS commands could face fines up to Sk100,000 (€2,670). In response, insurance companies have already started offering products that cover the potential risk. A typical rescue operation costs between Sk3,500 and Sk 4,000 on average, but the most extreme operations cost between Sk7,000 and Sk11,000. However, costs could soon climb to new heights. One rescue operation in Spálená saddleback in Western Tatras at the end of 2005, where an avalanche killed all but one of eight Czech climbers, ran up almost Sk300,000 in expenses. The Air Rescue Service and voluntary rescuers reported additional expenses, the SITA news agency wrote. In alpine regions, tourists themselves are responsible for 70-80 accidents, but the ratio in Slovakia is around 90 percent. In 2005, 26 people died on Slovak mountains. Of them, 13 were from the Czech Republic. Last year, the Mountain Rescue Service reported 1,585 rescue operations.
5. Jun 2006 at 0:00