Fatal accidents in mountains
The High Tatras, Slovakia's highest mountain range, claimed two victims over the October 24-25 weekend. On October 25, a 30-year-old man from the Czech Republic fell into a 150-metre-deep gorge near Ľadový Štít (Ice Peak). His climbing partner then called members of the Mountain Rescue Service (Horská Služba) to the accident site. The man, who suffered multiple internal injuries, was transported by helicopter to the nearest hospital in Poprad. Despite the best efforts of the hospital staff, however, the man died a few hours later.
The rescue service reported that on the same day, a 19 year-old climber fell from a rock and suffered a fatal head injury. The boy's corpse was found by a group of English-speaking tourists the next day near the waterfalls of Studený Potok (Cold Stream).
Bears thrill Tatras' hotel staff
"We were running around like headless chickens," said Jozef Baranček, a waiter at one of the High Tatras' numerous hotels, after an encounter with a bear searching for food in the hotel garbage bins.
Such scenes have recently become rather common in Slovakia's most visited tourist area. As the High Tatras is one of the few central European areas with living conditions suitable for bears, the concentration of the animals has risen to an unbearable level. Up to thirty bears were recently found to be dwelling near Demänovská dolina, a valley with only limited food resources for the omnivorous beasts.
Without enough to eat in their natural surroundings,, the bears have become bolder and now regularly ransack the hotels' garbage bins in broad daylight. The animals have begun to turn their noses up at the special bait laid by the hotel owners, and the hotels now cannot get rid of their unwanted guests.
Direct attacks on people by the animals are also increasing. In the second half of October, a man was attacked by five young bears, and ended up in hospital with a number of severe injuries.
Mr. Baldhead competition
Ján Púčik from Trenčianske Mitice in western Slovakia's Trenčín district won the title of Mister Baldhead in the eponynmous competition that concluded with a costume ball in Trenčín on October 24. According to the competition rules, the 500 participants arriving at the event had to wear overalls, tracksuits, pyjamas or swimming suits.
The competition was organized by the Club of Unjustly Bald People. The jury, led by the formerly famous singer Helena Vrtichová, also conferred the title of Mister Nice on Ľubomír Metlo from Trenčín, and the title of Mister Hairy on Milan Palčisko from Kysucké Nové Mesto in northern Slovakia. Willi Weber, the Club's chairman, resigned his post after seven years in favour of Roman Farkaš, Mr. Baldhead 1997.
Killing Kinder chocolate egg
The corpse of a young woman was found in Senec's Lúč Hotel on October 26. The body did not show any signs of violence, but the woman's right arm had several track marks, one of which was fresh. The police also found a small plastic egg from the Kinder Chocolate, a well-known chocolate egg sold in Slovakia, which contained an unknown white powder. Marta Bujňáková, Bratislava Regional Police headquarters spokesperson, said that whether the woman was a drug addict and had died from an overdose would be revealed by an official autopsy
Most illegal migrants come from Yugoslavia
Pavol Ňuňuk, head of the Interior Ministry's Immigration Police Department, told the press on October 26 that Slovakia's state border is under constant pressure from illegal migrants. Since the beginning of this year, police have detained 6,681 migrants who illegally crossed the Slovak border, a 20% increase over 1997.
The most commonly used crossing into Slovakia is the southern Slovak-Hungarian border. Most of the refugees come from Yugoslavia: police detained almost 3,000 illegal migrants from Yugoslavia and over 700 from Afghanistan.
People are mostly smuggled across the border in large groups, often using the so-called decoy system, in which a small group is sent ahead to distract the attention of the border guards and immigration police and ease passage of a larger group of about 200 people.
Police arrested 524 smugglers of illegal immigrants in 1998, the majority of whom were Slovaks. If found guilty, they can be sentenced to one year in jail, but in most cases they are only fined. Interior Ministry State Secretary Ladislav Polka underscored that it is not in Slovakia's power to solve the migrant problem, but it is up to the countries whence the migrants come.
Burglars in Ikea furniture store
Goods worth 1,520 Sk ($45) were found in the pockets and bags of 25 year-old Eduard Z., who claimed that he "just forgot to pay". The burglar was detained by Ikea store security on October 23. He was not, however, the only one with bad luck that day. An 18-year-old girl, Petra R., was detained later the same day after attempting to steal 6 towels worth 360 Sk ($10) each.
Compiled by Ivan Remiaš from press reports
2. Nov 1998 at 0:00