While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, March 26 edition

S'poreans turn up past midnight to pay last respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew

It was way past midnight but Singaporeans were still streaming in to pay their last respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew at Parliament House, with a steady number of people joining the queue early on Thursday morning where the line began at Hong Lim Park.

The crowd there shortly before 1am on Thursday was predominantly younger people who said they were there after work - although senior citizens also gamely waited in line to see the country's founding prime minister, who died on Monday aged 91, lying in state at the Parliament.

At its peak on Wednesday, the waiting time for those in the queue was at least eight hours. The long wait and size of the crowd prompted the authorities to announce that the public will be able to pay their respects to Mr Lee round the clock till Saturday at 8pm.

The estimated waiting time as at 12.30am was about three hours.

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Remains of victims being airlifted from French Alps crash site: Source

Helicopters began airlifting the remains of the victims of a Germanwings plane crash from the disaster site in the French Alps on Wednesday afternoon, a source close to the investigation told AFP.

The operation to recover the remains of the 150 passengers and crew killed in the Airbus A320 crash was later called off for the night, the source added.

The mountain crash site, which is situated at about 1,500m altitude, is accessible only by helicopter or an arduous hike on foot.

At least 51 Spaniards and 72 Germans died Tuesday when Flight 4U9525 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf crashed into the mountainside after an unexplained eight-minute descent from cruising altitude.

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Afghan President thanks American people for service and sacrifice in speech to Congress

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani professed deep gratitude to the American people Wednesday for their service and sacrifice in a protracted war in Afghanistan, but warned of extremism’s persistent threat in a speech to US lawmakers.

Addressing a rare joint meeting of Congress one day after President Barack Obama hosted him in the White House, Ghani expressed a revitalised optimism about the US-Afghan relationship.

Ghani presented a sharp contrast, both in style and substance, to his predecessor Hamid Karzai, whose relations with Washington grew bitter and mistrustful in his final years in office.

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Macau hosts glittering Asian Film Awards

Chinese cinema’s leading lights dominated the winners’ podium at the star-studded Asian Film Awards on Wednesday, with local stars scooping three of the four top prizes in the glitzy gambling hub of Macau.

The Golden Era, a biopic of an acclaimed Chinese writer directed by Hong Kong’s Ann Hui (above centre), earned her the Best Director award, while the Best Movie gong went to Blind Massage from controversial director Lou Ye, a story based on the little-known industry in China that featured blind amateur actors.

Continuing China’s run of luck, the prize for Best Actor went to rising local star Liao Fan (above right), who bagged the award for his role in cop thriller Black Coal, Thin Ice.

South Korea’s Bae Doona (above left) took the Best Actress award for her portrayal of a police officer struggling in her male-dominated workplace after moving to a remote seaside town in A Girl At My Door.

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Zayn Malik leaves British boy band One Direction

Singer Zayn Malik said on Wednesday he was quitting the best-selling pop band One Direction because he wanted to live a normal life and apologised to fans of the hugely popular British-Irish group for doing so.

The decision by Malik to quit came after he dropped out of an Asian tour due to what he said was stress when pictures of the singer, who is engaged to Perrie Edwards of Little Mix, were published showing him partying with another woman in Thailand.

The announcement said Malik’s decision had come after five years with the band, which came to prominence for its performance on the popular televised singing competition The X Factor in 2010.

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