Hungary sacks weather chief after forecast forces cancellation of fireworks | Hungary

The Hungarian government has fired the head of the national meteorological service and her deputy, two days after a fireworks display to celebrate a national holiday was delayed for fear of thunderstorms.

Technology Minister Lazlo Palkovics, who oversees the National Weather Service (NMS), relieved President Kornelia Radics and her deputy Gyula Horvath of their duties on Monday, without giving a reason. The ministry did not immediately respond to AFP’s call for more details.

The NMS had predicted thunderstorms and gusty winds in the capital, Budapest, which led to the cancellation of Saturday’s fireworks. However, the storms missed the capital.

The NMS agency apologized on Sunday, citing “a factor of uncertainty inherent in the profession”.

The fireworks display along the banks of the Danube was billed as ‘the biggest in Europe’ to celebrate ‘the millennial state of Hungary’ on St. Stephen’s Day, but proved controversial in some backgrounds, which means that the forecasts have become a sort of political lightning rod.

The opposition has called for the exhibition to be cancelled, denouncing it as “a pointless waste of money” at a time when the country’s economy is struggling and Ukraine is at war. A petition calling for an overturn has garnered nearly 200,000 signatures.

On Sunday, pro-government media criticized the NMS for its forecast. Online newspaper Origo accused the agency of giving “misleading information about the extent of the bad weather, which misled the security operations team”.

In a reaction broadcast on the social network Facebook, liberal Andras Fekete-Gyor joked: “They couldn’t produce the weather they wanted, they were fired. No, it’s not a dictatorship in Central Asia, it’s the Hungary of [ruling party] Fidesz,” he said.

The exhibition has been postponed until later this week.

In 2006, the annual festivities were hit by a violent storm that left five people dead and several hundred injured, causing widespread panic among the more than a million people who had gathered to watch on the banks of the Danube.

With Agence France Presse

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