Astronomers deem to have found the first Earth-sized planet outside our solar system that is likely to support liquid water and therefore life. Gliese 581g was discovered orbiting a nearby star at a distance that places it squarely in the "habitable zone" where liquid could exist on its surface.

According to Prof Steven Vogt, who led the team that discovered it, the planet is a similar size to Earth and its mass indicates that it is probably rocky with a definite surface and has enough gravity to hold an atmosphere.

It is as still unknown whether water does exist on the planet or what kind of atmosphere it has. But because conditions are perfect for liquid, which is always a precursor for life on Earth, Prof Vogt believes "that chances for life on this planet are 100 percent".

It is believed that Gliese 581g, has a mass three to four times that of Earth and an orbital period of just under 37 days and is located 20 light years away from Earth in the constellation Libra. The planet is tidally locked to the star, which means that one side is always facing the star and basking in perpetual daylight, while the side facing away from the star is in perpetual darkness.

The researchers estimate that the average surface temperature of the planet is between -24 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-31 to -12 degrees Celsius). The surface gravity would be about the same or slightly higher than Earth's, so that a person could easily walk upright on the planet, Prof Vogt said.

Gunmen have hijacked a school bus in Nigeria's Abia state, on the fringes of the oil-producing Niger Delta, and kidnapped 15 children, police said on Tuesday. The children were believed to come from wealthy families, as is the case with most private school pupils in Nigeria. Gunmen have been negotiating with the owner of the school as police stepped up efforts on Wednesday to free the students, authorities said.

"The kidnappers are relating with the proprietor of the school and we are hopeful for a good outcome," Abia State police spokesman Geofrey Ogbonna said. "We are intensifying our efforts to set free the 15 children."

He did not give details on the talks with the kidnappers or police efforts to track them down following Monday's hijacking in Nigeria's oil-rich south.

The abductors have demanded a ransom of 20 million naira (128,900 dollars, 95,650 euros).

President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday called the incident "utterly callous and cruel" and pledged government action to free the victims.

Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta region has seen scores of kidnappings in recent years, often by criminal gangs seeking ransom payments but also by militants demanding a fairer distribution of oil revenue.

Most kidnappings initially involved foreign oil workers, but more recently attackers have also targeted the children and relatives of wealthy Nigerians.

The majority of victims are freed unharmed, often after a ransom is paid.

The Fisher-Taylor marriage lasted only five years. She fell in love with co-star Richard Burton during the Rome filming of 'Cleopatra'

Pop idol Eddie Fisher passed away on Wednesday due to complications from a recent hip surgery, his family announced on Thursday. He was 82. Fisher, father to actress Carrie Fisher, was one of the most successful pop singers of the 1950s. In addition to chart-topping hits like “Thinking of You,” “Walking Behind You,” and “Oh! My Pa-Pa,” Fisher also had the TV variety show Coke Time with Eddie Fisher and The Eddie Fisher Show. He fell out of the spotlight with the advent of rock’n'roll, though he continued to record well into the 1960s.

Fisher was married five times. He had two children, Carrie and Todd, with his first wife, actress-singer Debbie Reynolds, whom he famously left for second wife Elizabeth Taylor. Carrie Fisher has compared her parents’ messy divorce and father’s re-marriage to Taylor to the modern-day Jennifer Aniston-Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie saga. Fisher was also married to actress Connie Stevens, with whom he had two more children.

Around 25 school children were killed on Tuesday when a bus skidded off the road and plunged into the River Jehlum in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK).

School principal Muhammad Farooq said that 30 to 35 children were in the bus, when the incident took place near Garhi Dupatta, some 25 kilometers from Muzaffarabad.

According to Xinhua, four injured children were rescued, and were rushed to a local hospital for treatment.

Police said that the bus driver has been taken into custody, and is being questioned to determine the causes of the accident.

Eyewitnesses said that the driver was speeding, and lost control when he approached a turn.

A new research reports that the depression and heart disease combo is far more deadly than having either of these conditions in isolation.

The authors have concluded their findings on just under 6,000 middle aged adults, whose mental and physical health were tracked for an average of five and a half years.

Around one in seven of the 6,000 (14.9pc) scored highly on a depressive symptom scale. And one in five (20pc) of those with established heart disease were depressed compared with one in seven (14pc) of those without heart problems.

During the five and a half year monitoring period, 170 people died. Heart attack or stroke accounted for 47 of these deaths.

Those with coronary heart disease alone were 67pc more likely to die of all causes, while those who were depressed, but otherwise healthy, were twice as likely to do so as those who had neither condition.

But those who were both depressed and had heart disease were almost 5 times as likely to die as their mentally and physically healthy peers.

After taking account of age and sex, and other relevant influential factors, the combination of depression and heart disease tripled the risk of death from all causes and quadrupled the risk of dying from a heart attack or a stroke.

The results emphasized the need for healthcare professionals to pay more attention to depression in their cardiac patients in the study.

The research has been published online in Heart Journal.

Around 14 people were killed and four others remained missing after an aircraft carrying 47 passengers and four crashed on Monday in southern Venezuela, authorities said. Thirty-three people were rescued from the wreckage alive. Bolivar Governor Francisco Rangel said emergency teams acted quickly to save the injured, who were taken to 2 hospitals.

Some of the dead were yet to be identified, while 4 people were believed to be caught in the wreckage, amid "smoking debris". Rangel said one eyewitness who tried to access the aircraft needed treatment for smoke inhalation.

The aircraft, operated by the state airline Conviasa, had taken off from tourist favorite Margarita Island and was headed to the city of Puerto Ordaz, in the state of Bolivar.

Earlier, Venezuelan Infrastructure Minister Francisco Garces had mistakenly said the aircraft had been travelling from Puerto Ordaz to Margarita.

"If you see the state the plane ended up in, it is surprising that 33 compatriots survived," Garces said later.

Rangel said the pilot reported trouble minutes before the crash, and noted that his skill saved lives by taking the plane to a deserted area. The pilot is among the dead, according to media reports which were not immediately confirmed by the authorities.

The ATR-42 model aircraft crashed shortly before landing into the scrap yard of a nearby plant operated by the steel company Sidor.

"It helped that it crashed in the Sidor plant, because there are several ambulances there," Rangel said.

Civil defence, police and fire department personnel were working at the site of the accident, around 10 kilometres away from Puerto Ordaz airport.

Another person has died of their injuries bringing the death toll to 17, after Thursday's suicide bombing in the southern Russia city of Vladikavkaz.

The attack devastated the main market in the capital of North Ossetia, part of Russia's troubled North Caucasus region.

"Fourteen people died at the scene of the blast, and another three died in a hospital. Among them are an 18-month old boy, a man and a woman," the republic's health minister, Vladimir Selivanov said.

Over 120 remain in hospital, he added.

Police have apprehended three men suspected of involvement in the bombing.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the attack had been carried out by people "without a soul, without a heart."

The blast is the latest in a series of terrorist attacks that have rocked the troubled North Caucasus region in recent weeks, including a suicide attack on a military base in Dagestan.

The Vladikavkaz market had been attacked in the past. In 1999, an explosion killed 55 people and injured 300 others. In 2008, 12 people were killed and over 40 injured in a bus bombing.

A suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden vehicle into a police station in Pakistan’s north-western province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on Monday, killing 17 people and injuring dozens more, police said.

The bombing, in Lucky Marwat district close to the country’s militancy-plagued tribal region, demolished parts of the police station building and damaged a nearby school van.

“Seventeen people have been killed in the attack. Among them are 8 civilians, including four school girls, and nine policemen,” said Khalid Khan, an official at the city’s central police control room. “Forty-six, including 20 policemen, are injured.” Television footages showed rescue workers sifting through the rubble to find survivors or dead bodies.

“It is believed that there might be still some people under the rubble. When the bombing took place more than 40 policemen were inside the building,” Khan said.

The bomber drove into the rear wall of the station, district police chief Gul Wali Khan said. Several close by buildings were also damaged by the explosion, which left a large crater in the ground.

It was the 3rd suicide attack in around a week in the country.

More than 100 people were killed and over 400 were injured in bombings in eastern city of Lahore and south-western town of Quetta.

The Taliban took the responsibility for both bombings and threatened to carry out more. The bombings ended a brief lull after recent floods devastated large areas in Pakistan, killing 1,700 and affecting more than 17 million.

A man, who took three people hostage in the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in the US, was shot and killed by police.

Police said all the hostages had escaped unharmed following the siege, which began when a man entered the building in Silver Spring, Maryland, waving a handgun and with canisters strapped to his chest.

Officers negotiated with the man for several hours, who was reported to be unhappy with the network's programming schedule.

Montgomery County Police Chief, Thomas Manger, said an explosive device detonated on the gunman's body when they shot him, and they were working to determine whether two boxes and two backpacks he also had with him were explosives.

The man, who is yet to be formally identified, entered the building at around 1pm local time.

Manger said officers were monitoring Lee on building security cameras and tactical officers moved in when they saw him pull out the handgun and point it at one of the hostages.

Police believe the 1,900 people who work in the building were able to get out safely.

Adam Dolan, a sales director in Discovery's education division, said he was heading to lunch with a colleague when he heard there was a situation in the building.

He was told to go back up to the top floor, lock the door and turn off the lights. Eventually the workers were herded down a stairwell and told to go home.

Dolan said: "Everyone was very scared, but at the same time ... I think people were calm and collected and responded as one would expect in this situation."

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