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Slovakia
Municipalities already thinking about the homeless

MUNICIPAL councils are already taking measures to avoid a repeat of last winter, when homeless people froze to death in several cities and towns around Slovakia.
Night shelters are being built and temporary drop-in centres are opening, the Sme daily reported on September 18.
The exact number of people who died on the streets last winter due to the freezing temperatures is not known. Martin Opet of Against the Flow, an NGO that helps the homeless, estimated that at least 20 homeless people died in Slovakia last winter.
Night shelters have already been built in the major cities of all eight of Slovakia's regions. Some are run by local councils, while others have been set up by regional authorities, civic organizations and charities.
The worst situation is in Bratislava; civil authorities there estimate that around 800-900 people are sleeping rough, while NGOs believe the number to be closer to 2000. At the moment there are only 200 night-shelter beds available in the whole city.


Slovakia
Historical artifacts 'stolen to order'

AS MANY as 150 historical artifacts go missing in Slovakia every year, and that only includes those objects registered as missing by the police. Many thefts remain undiscovered for a long time and are often detected only by chance, the Pravda daily wrote.
The continued thefts of valuable works of art and antiques from galleries, museums, churches, and archaeological sites indicate that Slovakia's cultural heritage is not being properly protected. Experts are now sounding the alarm and demanding increased security. "Works of art are continually being stolen, and many valuable objects disappear for good," said popular non-fiction writer Milan Vároš.
Most of the objects, of which it is thought that many are being stolen to order, are being taken from churches. Statistics show that as many as 70 percent of the stolen artifacts are sacred objects.


Bojnice
Florentine knights return to áBojnice Castle

NOT ONLY bold and strong boys, but also skilful and courageous girls were dubbed Florentine knights at Bojnice Castle during the traditional Knights' Days, which ran from September 14 to 17.
Visitors could watch a re-enactment of the marriage preparations of 15th century Florentine knight Bardo Nofri and his bride, a Hungarian noblewoman. Marauding knights came to thwart the wedding and take the castle but, fortunately, the good and honest knights who support King Sigismund of Luxembourg arrived to defend the lovers and their castle. Young visitors, for whom the event was organized, were invited to join them.
The young visitors also had an opportunity to become Florentine knights, but first they had to demonstrate their exceptional skills. They had to shoot a crossbow, cut an apple in half with a real sword, be able to ride on horseback, and show that they have courtly manners and that they can dance, fence, and answer questions from history. In the end, they had to prove their courage by defeating the marauding knights.


Košice
Pilgrimage to commemorate airplane crash victims

A PILGRIMAGE entitled 'The Unfinished Mission', commemorating the 42 Slovak soldiers who died in an airplane crash on their way back from Kosovo near the Hungarian village of Hejce in January, was started on September 17 with a mass at St. Elizabeth's Cathedral in Košice.
The mass was celebrated by the ordinary of the Slovak Armed Forces and the Armed Corps, František Rábek and some army chaplains.
"With this mass, we wanted to draw spiritual strength for all those grieving, so they can bear their loss with faith and hope," he said.
Defense Minister František Kašický, who was also present at the event, stressed the importance of the pilgrimage. He said that it is in commemoration of those who died in the biggest tragedy in the history of the Slovak Armed Forces.
"It's necessary to pay respect to them and to honour their relatives. It's a pilgrimage, and spiritual and religious services are an integral part of the Slovak Armed Forces. That's why I welcomed this initiative and supported it," he said.
Over 200 friends and relatives of the victims came from all over Slovakia to attend the mass.
"Money doesn't mean a thing. We would rather be poor and still have our son," said the parents of Ľudovít Orlický, one of the victims.
Slovak Armed Forces spokesman Milan Vanga said that they have prepared an agreement with the local authorities in Hejce stating that the Slovak side will contribute Sk1 million towards the maintenance of the memorial to the airplane crash victims.
The memorial should be unveiled on January 19, 2007, the first anniversary of the accident.


High Tatras
Falling rocks kill Polish climber

A ROCK avalanche in the lower part of Gerlach Ravine killed a 48-year-old Polish mountaineer on September 16.
This is the fourth fatal accident that has happened in the High Tatras since the beginning of the year.
The emergency dispatch centre received a call for help at 09:00 on the same day. The Mountain Rescue Service responded and requested cooperation from Air Rescue and Air Transport Europe.
A doctor was brought to the scene of the accident by helicopter but it was not possible to transport the body due to the bad weather. Four rescuers were then called in and later a rescue helicopter was able to pick up the deceased Polish mountaineer.

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