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Around Slovakia

Car kills pensioner
Presidential welcome for first baby
Birds flock to new winter retreats
Party actor handcuffed
Winter wagons roll
Six hardy swimmers take on the Danube

Košice
Car kills pensioner

A CARELESS BMW driver killed a woman and severely wounded a female pensioner as they walked out of a local grocery store.
According to the daily SME, the driver lost control of the BMW and mounted the pavement in the eastern Slovak city of Košice on December 28.
"The black BMW hit a pedestrian who was tossed away by the crash. The car continued along the pavement and hit 41-year-old Kamila M, who died at the scene as a result of her injuries," said police spokeswoman Oľga Lukáčová.
According to an eyewitness the BMW was travelling at a speed of at least 100 kilometres per hour.
"The car hit the women who had just walked out of the grocery store carrying their shopping bags," said the unnamed eyewitness.
The BMW stopped only because it hit a lamp post. According to SME, the car completely demolished the lower part of the post as it crashed against it.
24-year-old Pavol G. from Košice, who was driving the car, is also in hospital, just as is his passenger, 27-year-old Marcel B from Košice.



SARA Nedzbalová, the first Slovak citizen born in 2005, and her mum.
photo: TASR

Košice
Presidential welcome for first baby

PRESIDENT Ivan Gašparovič congratulated the parents of the first baby born in Slovakia in 2005. The baby was born one second after midnight on January 1 in Košice.
In a letter sent to the parents of baby girl Sara Nedzbalová, the president said that a baby's birth is a gift not only for them but also for society as a whole, the TASR news agency reported.
Gašparovič wished Sara and her mother good health and expressed best wishes for the family's future.


Trenčín
Birds flock to new winter retreats

THE CATASTROPHIC Nove-mber winds that destroyed large parts of Slovakia's Tatra mountains' forests have forced thousands of birds to look for winter retreats elsewhere in the country.
Many north European species that usually spend winter in the relatively warm High Tatras in the north of Slovakia have been spotted in other parts of the country, wrote the daily SME December 29.
Shortly after the calamity, which damaged large sections of High Tatra forests, a flock of bunting was observed in the western Slovak city of Trenčín, and other species of birds were also reported in areas such as Turiec, Orava and Eastern Slovakia.
"On the 20th of December we even spotted a flock of around 1,000 birds right in the centre of the capital city Bratislava," said ornithologist Martin Sárossy.
Ornithologists think that the sighting of a variety of different kinds of birds around the country is linked to the November windstorm.
"Cases have been recorded in which bigger winds carry flocks of smaller bird species large distances," said Sárossy.
"The forests of the Tatras created a certain reservoir, a source of food for birds that got used to being able to spend winters there. Now they have to look for new refuges," he said.


Nitra
Party actor handcuffed

A LIGHT-HEARTED sketch turned into a bitter comedy when a student actor at a school party realized that the key to the handcuffs he was using during a performance was 40 kilometres away.
According to the TASR news agency, the unnamed student was hosting a traditional secondary school party of senior students. During the party a group of students, including the host, staged a fun performance in which a tipsy Little Red Riding Hood, played by the host, was handcuffed.
The performance got a big laugh, but the smile soon disappeared from the face of the host when his mates realized that they had left the key to the handcuffs in a village 40 kilometres away.
According to the TASR news agency, the students decided to try and find a policeman to help them out but could not find one in the vicinity. It seemed that the host was sentenced to spend the rest of the evening in cuffs.
Luckily, the owner of the restaurant where the party was held managed to open one of the cuffs with a wire and two hours later the handcuffed Little Red Riding Hood was freed from both cuffs.



WINTER sports enthusiasts now have the services of this historical means of transport.
photo: TASR

Čierny Balog
Winter wagons roll

SKIERS in the central Slovak village of Čierny Balog are now able to ride on an historical train straight down to the local ski slope.
According to the daily SME, the train, consisting of two heated wagons pulled by a steam locomotive, is ready to steam down the narrow-gauge rails to the local ski lift. Until now the railway only operated during the summer season, taking tourists through the local forests from Čierny Balog to the village of Chvatimech and back.
The train stops in Čierny Balog's Krám settlement, which is where the popular local ski slope with a lift is situated.
"Several domestic and foreign skiers asked about the possibility of having a ride on the train [in winter]," Aleš Bílek, the head of the Čiernohorská železnica railway unit told SME.
For the first time ever the old-time wagons are ready to take around 70 skiers to the ski lift area. The steam train will operate on Saturdays and on other days per request throughout January and February 2005.
"We should be able to connect two more wagons and so increase the transportation capacity to up to 160 seats," said Bílek.
Last summer season the train transported around 90,000 tourists.
A group of enthusiasts is given credit for enabling a two-kilometre extension to the historical rail track, which is administered by the Čierny Hron micro region.
Thanks to a donation from the Swiss government, the whole of the original 16-kilometre track, leading from Chvatimech to the nearby village of Hronec, is once again in use.
The narrow-gauge railway, the only one in the country, resumed operations 13 years ago and has transported around 600,000 people since then. The Communist regime tried to discontinue it in 1985, but it survived and is thriving, according to SME.


Bratislava
Six hardy swimmers take on the Danube

SIX hardy chaps swam a record 2.3 kilometres in the cold Danube River in the annual Polar Bears event, held by the civic association of the same name.
Czech opera singer Richard Haan was first to finish the stretch.
"It was really quite refreshing," he told the TASR news agency.
Also completing the distance was Tibor Černák from the village of Tomášov, near Bratislava. Černák said he had trained for three years for the event in the hope of ridding himself of hay fever.
The group of daring dippers began their New Year's splash at the PKO leisure park in Bratislava. Joining them a little further downstream were 10 more swimmers, chancing distances of 1 and 1.6 kilometres.
Chief Polar Bear Jozef Makai, organizer of the event for the eighth time, was pleased with the result. "Things went perfectly, the weather was very good, and I am fully satisfied," he said.

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