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Tuesday, 13 August, 2002, 16:52 GMT 17:52 UK
Czech actors fear for flooded theatre
Aspects of Alice: Black Light Theatre's show

A Czech theatre company's manager at the Edinburgh Fringe has spoken of his helplessness as flooding in Prague threatens their families and livelihood.

The flooding has forced the mayor of the Czech capital to order the evacuation of up to 40,000 people, as fears grow that flood defences will be overwhelmed and that a second "impact wave" will inundate much of the old city.

Jacob Marek told BBC News Online all of the company members' relatives in Prague are believed safe after many were evacuated.

But he added that the Ta Fantastika Black Light Theatre is near the historic Charles Bridge and is likely to be affected by new flooding.

Evacuees in gym
Prague's authorities have ordered 40,000 people to leave their homes
Mr Marek, who also performs with the company, said only the basement was currently waterlogged, but that the area around the theatre was evacuated.

His father, Pavel Marek, was at the scene battling to clear the theatre of valuable equipment.

The people of Edinburgh had been "immensely supportive", with one venue owner offering to stage a benefit event for the theatre company, said Mr Marek.

But he added that the destruction of the theatre was not as important as their relatives staying out of danger.

Flood defence, Prague
Last-ditch efforts to limit the damage are under way
"The place where most of our company live has been evacuated," he said. "We are just sitting around helpless, feeling like an idiot because you can't help.

He said they were ringing their relatives on the company telephone every quarter of an hour.

"The worst thing is that we can't be there to help them," he said.

Across the whole of eastern Europe, the floods have already killed more than 70 people, with more than 50 of those in Russia.

'Spirit'

The Czech authorities believe the mass evacuation is the only way to make sure people are not cut off without water and electricity.

Mr Marek said the Czech spirit would help the company and the people of Prague to repair the damage once the flood waters eventually subside.

"We have to sort it out ourselves. Czech people stick together when anything like this happens," he said.

Coverage of the 2002 Edinburgh Festival from BBC News Online

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See also:

13 Aug 02 | Europe
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