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Slovakia
Tragic start to summer

THE SUMMER holidays got off to a grim start on Slovakia's roads this year.
During the first 10 days of July, 20 people died in road accidents, the Pravda daily wrote on July 12.
"On July 6, eight people died," Viktor Plézel from the Police Presidium told the daily. "This is the highest number of deaths we've reported in one day so far this year."
Last year, police registered 1,504 accidents and 12 deaths during the first 10 days of the summer holidays. This year, it was 1,645 accidents and 20 deaths.
Two of the early-summer accidents involved teenagers. On July 6, a 16-year-old boy without a driver's licence, riding a motorcycle down on a country road close to the village of Šúrovce in the Trnava Region with his 19-year-old friend, crashed into a car driven by 15-year-old boy. Both boys on the motorbike were killed.
On July 10, a speeding truck killed a 17-year-old boy who was mowing grass at the side of the road outside the village of Bernolákovo.
Speeding was a factor behind most of the fatal accidents, Plézel said.
The Bratislava Region has the highest fatality rate, he said. During the first half of 2007, 30 people were killed, and five more deaths were recorded in the first 10 days of July.


Slovakia
Heat wave breaks records

The record-breaking heat warped the tram tracks in Bratislava.
photo: SITA

THE WAVE of tropical heat that first hit Slovakia during the second weekend of July broke records across the country.
The temperature in Bratislava soared to 34.3 Celsius on July 15, the ČTK newswire wrote. This surpasses the previous record of 32.3 Celsius set in 1958.
In Poprad, the decades-old record of 29 Celsius was also broken on July 15 when temperatures rose to 30.5 Celsius.
In Sliač, temperatures climbed to 34 Celsius, 1.1 degrees higher than the record set in 2001.
"Temperatures of 31 to 32 degrees are common during the summer in Slovakia," Rastislav Čičmanec of the Slovak Meteorological Institute told the TASR newswire. "But now temperatures are climbing to 38 degrees, which is extreme."
The highest temperature ever recorded in Slovakia was in the town of Komárno, which hit 39.8 Celsius in 1950. This record came close to being broken on July 18, when temperatures peaked all across Slovakia. The town of Hurbanovo had the highest temperature at 39.6 Celsius.


Slovakia
Pensioners thronging back to work

THE NUMBER of pensioners who want to carry on working after retirement age has been increasing dramatically. While a decade ago, only one in 10 retirement-age men were working, the figure rose to one in four last year. Meanwhile, the number of retirement-age women working has tripled since the mid-1990s, the Pravda daily wrote on July 16.
Rastislav Bednárik of the Institute for Labour Research ascribes this phenomenon mainly to the economic growth experienced in Slovakia since it joined the European Union in 2004, along with a law passed in 2003 that allows people to receive a pension in addition to their salary.


Slovakia
Hámor and Kopold scale Nanga Parbat

Jozef Kopold, 27, is considered one of Slovakia's best mountain-climbers.
photo: TASR

SLOVAK climbers Peter Hámor and Jozef Kopold and Polish climber Piotr Morawski are successfully continuing their expedition in the Himalayas. After climbing Nanga Parbat, they moved below the second-highest peak in the world, K2.
The trio climbed the 8,125-metre Nanga Parbat on July 15. But this peak only served to acclimate them, because K2 (8,611 metres) is the main goal of their expedition. They hope to scale K2 in alpine style.
"Summiting Nanga was preparation and acclimatisation for our main goal," Kopold wrote in an e-mail to the TASR newswire. "All three of us feel well, we don't have any frostbite and, most importantly, we are looking forward to continuing on. On July 19 we are leaving the base camp of Nanga Parbat."
Extremely bad weather and strong winds hampered the expedition's climb from the C4 camp to the summit. "We planned our second attempt to climb to the top for Friday, July 13, but everything turned out
The ninth annual Beckov Festivities, which re-enacts the Hussites' attempt to conquer Beckov Castle in 1433, was a success despite its lack of a happy ending. Visitors enjoyed the sunny weather and a rich cultural programme that, for the first time, featured Hagyomány Örzöcsapat, Hungarian archers on horseback. Period music and medieval meals evoked a 15th-century mood.
photo: TASR

differently," wrote Kopold. "On July 10 we started from the base camp at an altitude of 4,100 metres and gradually climbed to camp C4 at an altitude of 7,100 metres."
But weather prevented them from either continuing on to the peak or descending to the lower camp. Thus they had to wait almost without food for two days.
"On Sunday (July 15) it was cold and windy," wrote Kopold. "We did not have any choice. Either climb to the top or return. We decided to climb. I was hungry and without energy. My fingers and toes were freezing, but I still had the motivation to go on. The climb from the C4 camp was unbelievably long and exhausting. In particular there was a lot of snow and because we were the first team, we had to make a path through the snow. But I was glad that there were no other people there when we reached the peak. We really enjoyed it."


Bratislava
Customs officers seize smuggled cigarettes

BRATISLAVA customs officers have caught smugglers with 8.5 million cigarettes hidden among 300 air conditioners.
The company named as the receiver of the shipment is already known to the customs office. In June the same company attempted to import dangerous waste to Slovakia from Austria. A spokeswoman of the Customs Directorate, Andrea Zemková, informed the press about the case on July 17.
If the cigarettes had been smuggled into Slovakia, the state would have been robbed of Sk24 million (€724,000) in taxes and customs charges. The contraband, which was seized on July 16, was the biggest shipment found so far this year.
The cigarettes might have been smuggled from China, the country from which the air conditioners were imported. The smugglers face up to 12 years in jail.


Slovakia
St. Michael returns to Old Town

THE STATUE of St. Michael the Archangel has returned to its place on the bridge in front of St Michael's Gate in the city's Old Town after a year of reconstruction in the area, the Nový Čas daily wrote on July 16.
"The sculpture is a copy of the original, which was sculpted in 1898," restorer Ladislav Chamuti told the daily. "Only its pedestal has been preserved. This copy was created 30 years ago."


Slovakia
Bratislava Zoo gets exotic new tenants

The Bratislava Zoo has three new tenants.
photo: SITA

THREE LARGE lizards became the newest attraction at the Bratislava Zoo on July 10. The mangrove monitore - two males and one female - were borrowed from Prague, making the Bratislava Zoo the first in the country to house such animals, zoo director Miloslava Šavelová told the SITA newswire.
The zoo had just finished breeding crocodiles and adjusted their habitat to suit the lizards, which will also be bred.
"We plan to keep crocodiles in the future because we are going to build the Water World Pavilion," Šavelová said. "But right now our focus is on building a pavilion for apes and an African complex."
The zoo's male mangrove monitor is 1.5 metres long, including the tail, and weighs about 15 kilograms, zoologist Martin Krug said. "The female lizard is about one metre long and weighs three to four kilos. The last lizard is a young male who should replace the older one in the future. It weighs about three kilos and is about 80 centimetres long."
Mangrove monitors are carnivorous lizards with long, narrow heads, long necks and large, round bodies.

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