A DRIVERLESS tram running at full speed crashed into a stop in Bratislava.
photo: Nový Čas: Peter Frolo
Trams runs loose, demolishes stop
A RUNAWAY tram crashed into blocks of concrete and totally demolished a tram stop.
The accident took place in Bratislava's Dúbravka district on February 20, and although no people were hurt, the tram's front wagon and the Saratov tram stop were completely destroyed.
It is not known why the tram started moving, but it rolled for about 500 meters before crashing into the tram stop shortly after the driver popped out to buy cigarettes.
According to Vladimír Rafaj from Bratislava's public transport authority, the company is studying the cause of the accident.
"We have to look at the data from the black box and then we'll know more. So far there are indications that the accident was half the fault of a technical error and half the fault of the driver, who failed to sufficiently secure the tram," Rafaj said.
According to preliminary estimates, total damages caused by the runaway tram will reach between Sk3 million and Sk5 million (71,000 and 119,000 euro).
ROSKOPF: "The man with three balls".
photo: Nový Čas: Peter Frolo
Juggling runner breaks record
A SLOVAK man has set a new record by running three kilometres in 14 minutes and 40 seconds, all the while juggling three balls.
Milan Roskopf, 43, from Bratislava - known also as "the man with three balls", according to the Nový Čas daily - thus added another unusual athletic record to his list, which already includes 23 world records and 13 Guinness Book of Records listings.
"I am happy. I wanted to run the track in less than 15 minutes and I did that. I didn't feel any panic during the run," Roskopf said.
Roskopf's previous records include being the only European to have run a half marathon - 21.1 kilometres - in one hour 51 minutes and 11 seconds while juggling three balls.
He invited competitors to beat his latest record.
"I'd be happy if somebody could beat it. At least there will be some competition."
Roskopf also holds world records in so-called power juggling.
Last year in June he juggled three 7.257-kilogram shot put balls for 51.38 seconds. The year before, he broke a record by juggling 5-kilogram shot put balls for one minute and 35 seconds.
Elementary schools ban cell phones in class
AN INCREASING number of Bratislava's elementary schools are banning the use of mobile phones during classes.
Principals say they want to prevent classrooms being turned into SMS centres. "It was beyond belief. Classmates were exchanging messages even though they were in the same room. We banned the use of mobiles last September," says Karol Müller, principal of the school on Vazovova Street. He recalls that students once even ordered a pizza during lesson.
The school on Grösslingova Street has taken similar action. Its principal, Valéria Hazuchová, said: "We had a pupil request a taxi during a lesson, and another was 'broadcasting' a lesson to somebody on the other end of the line. I had never heard of anything like it before."
In church-run schools the situation is not so critical.
"We know that children carry phones to schools, but we have not had to ban them yet," says Mária Kováčiková, principal of the elementary church school on Nedbalova Street.
Army vehicle falls from bridge
TWO professional soldiers in a heavy Tatra 815 truck miraculously survived when their vehicle fell from a 30-metre bridge near Liptovský Mikuláš.
The accident happened late at night on February 20. The 12-ton truck was smashed to pieces, and rescue squads took the whole of the following day to collect the parts with two cranes. The two soldiers suffered serious injuries.
Katarína Heimschildová from the Defense Ministry's press department said the condition of the two soldiers, who have not been named, had stabilised and that the cause of the accident was under investigation.
Former mob convict saves life
A FORMER convict believed to be close to an underworld boss from central Slovakia saved a woman from drowning by jumping into cold water and helping her out of the vehicle she was in.
Vasil Imrišek, 39, who was convicted of blackmail, sentenced to jail for seven years, and was recently released for good behaviour, was driving his car near Považská Bystrica when he suddenly noticed in his rear-view mirror that a car he had passed had disappeared.
He drove back down the road and saw the blue Škoda Fabia floating in the Váh River. He jumped into the water in his clothes and brought out the 33-year-old female driver, Miriam K.
"I hesitated for about 10 seconds. The water in the area is about seven meters deep and the stream is quite strong," Imrišek told the Nový Čas daily.
He said that at first he tried to pull the car back onto the river bank with a rope, but then he noticed the front part of the car had started sinking, so he rushed to help the woman inside.
"I showed her how to get out through the back window. She was very brave," Imrišek said.
When the woman got out of the car, Imrišek grabbed her and pulled her onto the ground. The daily reported that there were several people at the scene but Imrišek was the only one to help the driver.
Runaway horse lands on car
POLICE in the Krškany district of Nitra found it hard to believe a driver who claimed that his brand new car had been damaged when a horse landed on it.
The driver said he had been turning off a main road when he saw a riderless horse coming in the opposite direction. When the horse saw the car, it panicked and tried to jump over the car, but instead landed on its roof. The startled horse then rolled off onto the road, jumped up, and galloped away, the man said.
The police were only convinced that the story was true when the injured horse was found. The owner of a nearby riding centre was already looking for the animal, which had thrown its young rider and escaped.
The horse survived, and its wounds were treated by a local vet. Damage to the car is estimated at Sk150,000 (3,566 euro).
Fountain a must
PRIORITISING the needs of his employees, the mayor of the eastern Slovak village of Zemplínsky Branč, Milan Tomko, has built a concrete fountain in front of a municipal office building that still lacks running water and flushing toilets.
The municipal office's employees still bring water with them to work in containers from their homes, and rather than relieving themselves at work, many prefer to use the toilet before and after work in their homes. The municipal office has only primitive wooden toilets.
In addition, the 447 inhabitants of Zemplínsky Branč still draw drinking water from wells, as none of the village's current or past mayors have managed to get a water pipeline built.
"Why do you want to write about us? I live in this village and people are starting to look at me as if I have done something wrong," Mayor Tomko told the Slovak daily Nový Čas.
He said people in the village just had to "persevere" under the current circumstances, and said that he had already started working on a water pipeline.
"I have already begun work, and the water pipeline will be finished this year. We're also working on a waste-water cleaning facility and, of course, we won't forget about sinks and toilets [for the municipal office]."
Polish leg falls off train in Žilina
THE STATIONMASTER in the northern Slovak town of Žilina was astounded when he discovered a human leg had fallen off the undercarriage of an international express train arriving from Poland.
Soon after the Báthory Express arrived in Žilina February 25, the train's undercarriage released a right leg, with a hiking boot on the foot. Police said the limb had been amputated on Polish territory, between Warsaw and Zawiec, when the train hit a Polish man.
The station master Ivan Golis told the daily Pravda that one of the station's technicians discovered the leg.
"He shouted at me that there was a leg. I didn't believe him at first," Golis said, adding that after seeing the leg was really lying under the train he "ran away".
"I've never seen anything like this in the 20 years I have worked with the railways," he said.
Slovak train police contacted their Polish colleagues, who confirmed that the leg most likely belonged to a man who was hit by the train that day in an accident that caused a four-hour delay.
Spokesman with the train police Jozef Búranský said the leg was taken to a coroner's office at a Žilina hospital, from where it would be sent back to Poland if the victim's family requested it.
"It's up to them whether the leg returns to Polish territory so that it can be buried with the body," Búranský said.
Compiled by Martina Pisárová from press reports
3. Mar 2003 at 0:00