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Wife and daughter (2) of Hamas chief perish as Israelis resume airstrikes

The wife and two-year-old daughter of a Hamas chief were killed in an Israeli airstrike yesterday as the the month-long Gaza war collapsed in a hail of fire.

Israel targeted the home of Mohammed Deif, although it is not known if he was at home, said senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk in Cairo. He has escaped numerous assassination attempts in the past

The fighting resumed on Tuesday when Gaza militants fired rockets at Israeli cities hours before a temporary ceasefire was set to end, prompting Israel to withdraw its delegation from Cairo and launch air strikes. Since then at least 16 Palestinians have been killed and 68 wounded.

The Israeli military said it carried out 60 airstrikes on Gaza, and that Palestinians had fired at least 80 rockets at Israel. About 2,000 reserve soldiers who had been sent home two weeks ago were called up for duty again yesterday.

The breakdown in talks and the resumption of violence marked a bitter ending to nearly a week of Egyptian-led diplomacy meant to end the war, which has reduced entire Gaza neighbourhoods to rubble and claimed more than 2,000 lives.

Life found deep below Antarctic ice in lake cut off for millions of years

A thriving ecosystem exists a mile-and-a-half beneath Antarctic ice in a lake that has been cut off from the outside world for millions of years, scientists have discovered.

It is the home of micro-organisms that generate energy for growth from ammonium and methane.

Many belong to a primitive extended family of microbes distinct from bacteria, called the Archaea.

Lead scientist Professor John Priscu, from Montana State University in the US, said: "We were able to prove unequivocally to the world that Antarctica is not a dead continent."

The research, published in the journal Nature, is the first direct evidence that life can be found deep below the Antarctic ice sheet.

The scientific team drilled through half a mile of ice to reach the sub-glacial Lake Whillans in January last year.

Archaea form one of the three great "domains" of life on Earth, the other two being bacteria and eukayotes – organisms with their DNA contained in a cell nucleus – to which humans belong.

Residents die as troops pound rebel-held city

Government troops fought to gain control of the rebel-held city in eastern Ukraine yesterday in battles that left 34 residents and nine troops dead in just 24 hours.

The Ukrainian soldiers are trying to encircle Donetsk, the largest city still in the Russian-backed rebel hands. And running battles were also fought in the city of Luhansk, which has no running water or electricity.

36 killed as Hiroshima is struck by landslides

At least 36 people were killed and seven missing in landslides caused by heavy rain that buried houses in the outskirts of Hiroshima.

They were triggered when more than a month's rain fell in 24 hours up to yesterday morning. Some of the victims were children

"People were washed away and it is hard to know exactly how many are unaccounted for," said official Nakatoshi Okamoto.

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