A fire that blocked the only exit to an Islamic school dormitory killed 24 people who were trapped behind barred windows, mostly teenagers, on the outskirts of Malaysia's capital. Firefighters rushed to the scene at Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah after receiving a distress call at 5.41am local time and took an hour to put out the blaze, which started on the top floor of the three-storey building, Kuala Lumpur police chief Amar Singh said. He said there were at least 24 charred bodies, 22 of them boys between 13 and 17, and two teachers. Singh said 14 other students and four teachers were rescued, with six of them hospitalised in critical condition. The fire broke out near the door of the boys' dormitory, trapping the victims as it was the only entrance and the windows are barred, fire department senior official Abu Obaidat Mohamad Saithalimat said. He said the cause was believed to be an electrical short-circuit.

Scientists in Ecuador's Galapagos islands are hoping to restore a tortoise species believed extinct since the 1800s. The Chelonoidis elephantopus lived on Floreana Island and was captured by seamen in large numbers for food during long journeys across the Pacific. The species is thought to have disappeared shortly after Charles Darwin's celebrated visit to the treasured archipelago. But a group of international scientists who collected 1700 blood samples from tortoises on Isabel Island farther north during a research expedition in 2012 made a surprising discovery: 80 had genetic traces of the lost species. "This is a species that was considered extinct for 160 years," Washington Tapia, one of the scientists studying the tortoises, said. Researchers with the Galapagos Conservancy and the Galapagos National Park are now trying to restore the species by selecting 20 specimens with higher amounts of the Floreana tortoise in its DNA to reproduce.

Scientists have found a feather of a bird previously thought extinct in South Australia, with no sightings for more than 100 years. The feather of the night parrot was found in the Kalamurina wildlife sanctuary in the state's northeast after a prolonged investigation by ecologists from the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, who used cameras, a helicopter and old records in their search. Ecologists John Young who made the find said there was no doubt about the feathers origins after it was found in a wedge-tailed eagle's nest. The feather of the parrot, which is nocturnal, relatively small and short- tailed, has been independently verified and the conservancy said the next step would be to assess the night parrots' population size.

Senator Bernie Sanders, the former US Democrat presidential candidate, has launched an attempt in the Senate to have the US Government provide "healthcare for all". Sanders' attempt to overhaul the healthcare system was backed by 15 other senators, including several leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. His bill has no chance of becoming law with Republicans in the majority in Congress, but the level of support threatened to open a fissure in the Democratic Party, showing the extent to which it is moving increasingly to the left. It also showed how Sanders would have a strong base of support to seek the Democrat nomination himself in the race to fight Donald Trump at the next election.


A magpie that attacked two young boys in a popular Perth, Australia, park, causing serious damage to one child's eye, has been destroyed. Both toddlers were rushed to hospital by their parents after they were swooped by the same male native bird a few hours apart at Whiteman Park. One-year-old Jacob Gale underwent emergency surgery on his left eye after the bird punctured his eyeball with its beak. "They've had to remove the lens of the eye because it's damaged," Jacob's father Adam Gale told Channel 7 News. Until Jacob can communicate, doctors won't know if his son has suffered long-term sight damage, he said. Despite being swooped twice, 3-year-old Bodee White suffered no permanent damage from scratches inflicted to his face and eyeball.

A magpie attacked two young boys in Perth, causing serious damage to one child's eye. Photo / AAP file
A magpie attacked two young boys in Perth, causing serious damage to one child's eye. Photo / AAP file

Protesters will descend on Sydney's Bondi Beach to pressure governments to back down on shark nets as the controversial safety measures are deployed along the New South Wales coastline. Nets are sunk a few hundred metres from shore at 56 NSW beaches from Lennox Head to Wollongong between September and April each year by the Department of Primary Industry. There has been one fatal shark attack between Newcastle and Wollongong since the nets were put in place in the 1930s. The nets are fitted with acoustic warning devices to alert dolphins and whales but an annual report found 373 animals were caught in the nets last summer and more than half of them died. Less than 20 per cent of animals caught in the meshing were sharks the nets were set up to stop.

Iraq has sentenced to death a Russian who fought for Isis in Mosul, in the first such ruling on a foreign fighter. The decision sets a precedent that could see extremists from Europe face the same fate. The 28-year-old man admitted being a member of the jihadist group and "carrying out terrorist operations" against Iraqi security forces, according to a statement released by Baghdad's central criminal court. He was charged under the country's anti-terrorism laws, which provides for death by hanging or firing squad. He has been sentenced to hang.