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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday

The latest on the train crash, ministers resign, people ignoring mask rules on public transport and more news from Austria on Tuesday.

A horse and carriage in Vienna
It's going to be sunny and warm today. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Train accident in Lower Austria leaves one dead and several injured

As The Local reported on Monday, a train accident early Monday evening in the Lower Austrian district of Mödling left one person dead and several injured, some seriously. It is not known at present why the train derailed.

According to ÖBB, the accident happened shortly after 18:00 on the Pottendorf line near Münchendorf. A train on the Raaberbahn was affected, a railcar and a wagon overturned.

According to Sonja Kellner from the Lower Austria Red Cross, the accident resulted in one fatality. Three people were seriously injured, nine others slightly injured, the spokeswoman said in the evening hours.

Broadcaster ORF said 44 people who were not injured were looked after and cared for in a nearby disaster relief centre in Lower Austria.

READ MORE: Train derails in Austria leaving one dead and many injured

Two Austrian ministers resign

Austria’s Agriculture Minister Elisabeth Köstinger announced her resignation on Monday. Economics Minister Margarete Schramböck followed suit just hours later. Both politicians were close to the former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

The resignation has left Austria’s ÖVP party in “turmoil” according to Der Standard newspaper. The Krone newspaper notes that  now only seven of the 17 turquoise-green government members originally sworn in by Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen on January 7, 2020 are still in the same office.

It gives the corruption investigations against Kurz and those around him,  the Covid-19 pandemic and allegations of plagiarism as reasons for the various departures.

Austria’s opposition SPÖ and FPÖ parties  have criticised the 14th government reshuffle and are calling for new elections. The “row of resignations” in the ÖVP shows that the turquoise-green federal government “only stands for chaos and self-employment”, according to SPÖ federal manager Christian Deutsch.

More people flouting mask requirement on public transport

Public transport companies in Vienna and Linz report that they are increasingly seeing passengers who are not wearing masks, although it is still a requirement to wear an FFP2 mask on all public transport in Austria.

Wiener Linien says there has been an increase of more than a third of people who refuse to wear a mask on public transport, broadcaster ORF reports.

Covid deniers and opponents of pandemic measures had recently asked their followers on social media to stop wearing masks on public transport according to the Kurier newspaper.

However, according to Linz Linien, many Upper Austrians have started to forget their masks, now it is not worn in so many locations, ORF reports.  

Underage refugees to be better protected after thousands ‘disappear’ in Austria

Plans have been set out to better protect underage refugees by the Minister of Justice Alma Zadic (Greens). Following a summit with state councillors, they agreed on the goal of “custody from day one”. At present Austria is one of only three EU countries where it takes an average of more than a month for a guardian to be appointed.

Broadcaster ORF reports that there have been financing and personnel problems in the federal states when accommodating children and young people seeking protection since 2021. 

The problem has become even greater with the Ukraine war, and many children are now arriving in Austria unaccompanied. It often takes a long time to clarify who is responsible for custody.

Zadic said it was “no longer acceptable” for the state to take weeks to work out who was responsible for the unaccompanied minors.

Between 2018 and 2020, 18,292 unaccompanied children went missing in Europe. In Austria of the 5,768 minors who applied for asylum in 2021, 4,489 – more than three quarters – disappeared without a trace. It is feared that many could have fallen victim to child trafficking, drug crime or child prostitution.

Six referendums will be discussed in Austria’s National Council

Six out of seven of the referendums launched in the past eight days have broken the necessary 100,000 mark to be debated in Austria’s National Council, the Interior Ministry announced on Monday evening.

A referendum against the transport of live animals gained the most votes, followed by the anti-corruption referendum, broadcaster ORF reports. At least 100,000 signatures are required for a referendum to be dealt with by the National Council.

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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

Covid-19 numbers on the rise, wages shrinking as cost of living increases, Finance Ministry official online communication and more news from Austria on Friday.

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

Austria’s Covid commission alerts to 70,000 daily infections soon

Austria’s commission to assess the pandemic situation, known as GECKO (Gesamtstaatliche COVID-Krisenkoordination), has alerted to rising Covid-19 numbers, Der Standard reports.

The commission believes the daily number of coronavirus infections could reach 70,000 already this summer. This is mainly because people have been travelling more than in previous years while wearing masks less often.

READ ALSO: Will Austria bring back its mask mandate before autumn?

Wages are shrinking and consumption is rising

Austria’s economy will grow somewhat more strongly this year than expected in March, ORF reported.

However, according to the June forecast of the economic research institutes WIFO and IHS, the outlook for the year’s second half is much gloomier.

Since inflation is higher than expected in March, gross real wages will fall by a historic 3.9 percent. However, if inflation falls, the real wages should increase significantly, about 5.3 percent, in 2023.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Austria’s new finance measures could benefit you

Finance Ministry to contact FinanzOnline users

If Austria’s Finance Ministry contacts you, don’t worry: they will be checking everyone’s data on the FinanzOnline platform.

The goal is to have up-to-date account data so that all the announced bonuses and payments to counter the rising cost of living to be made quickly and with no issues.

The contact will happen via the FinanzOnline website and e-mail to users who allow email contact.

Of course, whenever the government or authorities announce they will reach out to people, there are always criminals looking to take advantage of it. Therefore, ensure that the message you received is from FinanzOnline and check the official website directly instead of clicking on links.

READ ALSO: When will you get your cost of living ‘bonus’ payments in Austria?

School holidays start in the east

Vienna, Lower Austria, and Burgenland students have started their nine-week summer vacations. In the remaining Austrian states, school holidays will only begin next week.

Classes will resume on September 5th for the east and September 12th in the Western states. Austria’s ÖAMTC traffic authority expects heavy traffic jams at the beginning of the month, especially as the summer holidays have also started in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and two German federal states.

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in Austria in July 2022

A break in the heatwave

The west of Austria will have a small break from the heatwave this Friday, Austria’s meteorologic central ZAMG says. A cold front arrives from the west, and maximum temperatures will be between 18C to 21C in the region, with thunderstorms.

In Vienna and Burgenland, though, maximum temperatures continue high, reaching 35C during the day.

READ ALSO: Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms

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