While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, March 18 edition

PM Benjamin Netanyahu neck-and-neck with rivals in Israel vote - exit polls

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was neck-and-neck with his centre-left rivals in elections Tuesday, exit polls showed, after staging a late fightback in his bid for a third straight term.

Figures published by public Channel 1 and private Channel 10 television both gave Netanyahu's Likud and Isaac Herzog's Zionist Union 27 seats each in the 120-member parliament.

Even if his Likud party comes second, Netanyahu could stay in power by forging a coalition with rightwing allies.

The outcome of the vote is likely to determine the prospects for new Middle East peace talks and Israel's troubled relations with its US ally.

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Indonesia calls off AirAsia search

Indonesian search and rescue teams were Tuesday ending the hunt for victims from last year's AirAsia plane crash, an official said, with 56 people still unaccounted for.

Flight QZ8501 went down in stormy weather during what was supposed to be a short trip from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore on December 28, killing all 162 people on board.

The search was scaled back dramatically in recent weeks, with foreign vessels withdrawing as well as the Indonesian military, which had provided the bulk of personnel and equipment.

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Japanese tsunami debris still washing up on United States shore

Debris from Japan's 2011 tsunami will continue to litter the North American coastline over the next three years, with everything from refrigerators to lumber and sports balls still floating offshore in the Pacific, an expert said on Tuesday.

About one million tons of debris was still lingering in the Pacific Ocean four years after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, the most powerful ever recorded in Japan, set off a series of massive tsunami waves that devastated a wide swathe of Honshu's Pacific coastline and killed nearly 20,000 people.

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Severe solar storm may disrupt power, satellites

A pair of solar eruptions over the weekend have unleashed a severe geomagnetic storm that could disrupt power and communications on Earth, US officials said on Tuesday.

The storm ranks as a G4 on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scale of one to five, with five being the worst.

Residents of the US states of Alaska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Washington, North and South Dakota have already reported seeing the Northern Lights, and Europe was expected to be able to witness aurora from the storm by nightfall, officials said.

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Football: Arsenal out of Champions League after losing on away goals to Monaco

Monaco survived an Arsenal onslaught to reach the Champions League quarter-finals on away goals after a 2-0 home defeat saw the tie finish 3-3 on aggregate on Tuesday.

Arsenal, looking to become the first team to overcome a two-goal home first-leg deficit in the Champions League, came agonisingly close to progressing after Olivier Giroud and substitute Aaron Ramsey scored in each half.

But the principality side's 3-1 win at the Emirates was just enough to see them through after Monaco keeper Danijel Subasic spectacularly denied striker Giroud five minutes from time.

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