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

Floods and mudslides, changes to red-white-red (Rot-Weiß-Rot) employment card, bike theft falls and more news from Austria on Wednesday.

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday
Stay cool today, it's going to get warm. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Flooding in Carinthia overnight

There have been bad floods in central Carinthia – especially around Feldkirchen and the districts of Villach and Villach-Land area, following storms during the night. Mudflows have damaged houses and interrupted power to houses in the Treffen am Ossiach community.

The villages of Winklern, Afritz, Äußere Einöde, Klamm and Töbring have been particularly affected by flooding. People have been instructed to go to safety on the first floor of their homes and wait for the situation to calm down. In Arriach people have been told to stay indoors after as much rain fell in one night as normally falls over the course of a month, leading to torrential streams. The area is currently cut off and cannot be reached by the emergency services, broadcaster ORF reports. 

Heavy thunderstorms also swept over Upper Austria yesterday evening and during the night. The Hausruckviertel was particularly affected, but fire brigades also came out in Linz and in the districts of Linz-Land, Schärding and in the Mühlviertel.

Parliament votes to make it easier to get red-white-red employment card

It’s going to be easier to get a red-white-red (Rot-Weiß-Rot) card to allow qualified workers from third countries to find work, the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports. In future, recipients of the RWR card can qualify with a minimum gross salary of 50 percent of the ASVG maximum contributions, (EUR 2,835 gross per month). There is no longer a minimum wage requirement for graduates from local universities and technical colleges, though the salary must correspond to the local salary of domestic graduates with comparable work and professional experience. Knowledge of English is equated with knowledge of German if the language in the company is English. The recognition of professional experience is to be made easier, language certificates and other evidence will  remain valid for longer. There will be easier applications for family members. In addition, regular seasonal workers are to be given permanent access to the labor market in the future and the approval process is to be accelerated.

READ MORE: Jobs in Austria: What types of jobs are in demand and where?

Doctor closes surgery due to death threats

A general practitioner in Upper Austria is temporarily closing her surgery after receiving online death threats from the anti-vaccination movement for more than seven months. Despite police protection and spending around 100,000 euros on security measures, she said it was no longer possible to continue operating her surgery safely. Her website explains that the security measures are costing more than profit from her practice.

Bike thefts fall in Austria, but are still common in Vienna

The number of bicycle thefts in Austria fell for the seventh time in a row last year. According to the Verkehrsclub Österreich, 17,595 reported bicycle thefts were the lowest in the 21st century. Two thirds of bicycle thefts happened in the provincial capitals, with most happening in Vienna. The most bike thefts were in Leopoldstadt (750), Donaustadt (711) and then Favoriten (531). The lowest number of thefts were in Hietzing. Here “only” 98 bikes were stolen in 2021, the Krone newspaper reports.

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

Five dead in severe storms and trains disrupted, pension increase discussed, Covid-19 risk falling and more news from Austria on Friday.

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

Severe storms lead to deaths of five people, including two children, in Austria

Severe storms, including gusts of wind of up to 140 km/h, swept across Austria on Thursday afternoon. Sadly five people – including two children – died in Carinthia and Lower Austria. Several people were injured, some seriously. In Styria, especially in Graz, the thunderstorm caused much damage and caused massive power outages that affected thousands of homes. ÖBB  stopped running all trains in Carinthia, East Tyrol and Styria during Thursday afternoon.

READ MORE: Five people dead after violent storms hit Austria

The Frequency Festival was also temporarily closed due to the storms.

According to the Österreichischen Unwetterzentrale (Austrian Severe Weather Centre) there is a red severe weather warning level in four of the nine federal states early on Friday morning. Heavy rainfall is expected as well as thunderstorms and hail.

READ MORE: Austria heading into a rainy and cooler weekend after heatwave peak

Plan to create stream in Ottakring area of Vienna to combat overheating

A 40m stretch of asphalt is to be turned into a stream in Ottakring in a pilot project which could be extended, using streams and waterways to create more cool areas in Vienna. The first watercourse in the ProBach project will flow between the youth center, Alt-Ottakring church and Heurigen. Trees should then be planted along the stream which could cool the nearby streets, broadcaster ORF reports.

Pension increase of at least 5.8 percent

Pensions are expected to increase by at least 5.8 percent in Austria due to the current high rates of inflation. The increase will be calculated using inflation figures ​​from August 2021 to July 2022. As Statistics Austria has calculated, the adjustment figure is expected to be at least 5.8 percent, broadcaster ORF reports. However, there are calls for politicians to do more to help pensioners with the cost of living increases.

Gas ordinance amended to combat shortages

The Gas Market Model Ordinance 2020 has been amended by the Austrian energy regulator E-control to ensure that there is an uninterrupted supply of gas to the country’s power plants. The strategic gas reserve may be used to ensure that the pressure in the gas network does not drop in the event of a delivery stop. Gas consumers with high output are also obliged to register for the trading system (FlexMOL) as a precautionary measure so that they can then trade gas volumes more quickly in an emergency.

In Tyrol and Vorarlberg, which are not connected to the Austrian gas network but are supplied via Germany, a new regulation states that gas  withdrawn from the Haidach and Seven Fields storage facilities should be returned at the border. An agreement between Austria and Germany will be signed to this effect, broadcaster ORF reports. 

READ MORE: ENERGY CRISIS: Will Austria have enough gas for winter?

Companies run by people from outside Austria add billions to Vienna’s economy

As The Local reported on Thursday, companies run by Viennese people with a migration background add around 8.3 billion euros annually in terms of business for the Austrian capital according to  a survey by the Chamber of Commerce. These companies also create around 45,500 jobs in Vienna alone, and generate around ten billion extra euros of business throughout Austria.

READ MORE: How migrants contribute to Vienna’s economy

Fees increase for water, waste disposal and parking tickets in Vienna

The City of Vienna is increasing the fees for water, sewers, waste disposal and parking ticket prices, it was announced on Thursday. The tariffs for municipal services are being adjusted in Vienna on the basis of the Valorisation Act in force.

At mid-year, it is checked whether the consumer price index has risen by three percent or more since the last increase – which it has. The adjustment will take effect in early 2023.