While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, April 29 edition

North Korea tests a ballistic missile earlier in April 2017.
North Korea tests a ballistic missile earlier in April 2017.PHOTO: EPA

North Korea test-fires ballistic missile - Yonhap

North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile on Saturday from a region north of its capital, but it appears to have failed, South Korea’s military said, defying intense pressure from the United States and the reclusive state’s main ally, China.

An official at South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed the launch but did not immediately have any further information. Yonhap news agency said the missile appeared to have blown up a few seconds into flight.

The test came as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned the United Nations that failure to curb North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs could lead to "catastrophic consequences".

US President Donald Trump told Reuters in an interview on Thursday that a “major, major conflict” with North Korea was possible over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. Trump praised Chinese leader Xi Jinping for “trying very hard” to rein in Pyongyang.


Pope Francis denounces barbarity during Egypt visit, preaches tolerance

Pope Francis, starting a two-day visit to Egypt, urged Muslim leaders to unite in renouncing religious extremism at a time when Islamist militants are targeting ancient Christian communities across the Middle East.

Francis' trip, aimed at improving Christian-Muslim ties, comes just three weeks after Islamic State suicide bombers killed at least 45 people in two Egyptian churches.

"Let us say once more a firm and clear 'No!' to every form of violence, vengeance and hatred carried out in the name of religion or in the name of God," the Pope told a peace conference at Egypt's highest Islamic authority, Al-Azhar.


Rescued Taiwanese hiker marks sombre birthday in Nepal

A Taiwanese trekker who was rescued on a Nepal mountainside seven weeks after going missing marked his 21st birthday in a Kathmandu hospital, recovering from an ordeal that left his girlfriend dead.

Liang Sheng-yueh survived in the wilderness despite losing 30kg but his girlfriend Liu Chen-chun, 18, died just three days before a team rescued the couple in north-west Nepal.

It was a sombre birthday celebration for the young hiker, who was served cake in the ward where he was slowly regaining strength.


Tennis: Sharapova 'extra help' blasted by Stuttgart opponent

Kristina Mladenovic ramped up the pressure on Maria Sharapova ahead of their Suttgart semi-final when she claimed the Russian superstar was getting "extra help" in her comeback from a 15-month doping ban.

Sharapova eased into the last four of the claycourt tournament by seeing off qualifier Anett Kontaveit for the third straight win of her comeback.

The Russian former world number one has been given wild cards by tournament organisers in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome and played her first match back here on Wednesday, much to the irritation of many of her rivals, including Frenchwoman Mladenovic.


Tennis: Nastase sorry for Serena 'chocolate with milk' remarks

Romanian tennis great Ilie Nastase apologised for derogatory comments about Serena Williams and for a foul-mouthed Fed Cup tirade that saw him suspended by the International Tennis Federation.

He did, however, have another pop at Britain's number one women's player Johanna Konta, who was left in tears during last weekend's combustible Fed Cup tie with Romania, and said his behaviour "has been exaggerated by all".

The 70-year-old said that his comments last Friday about the pregnant Williams - he was overheard by a journalist talking about her baby being "chocolate with milk" - was a "spontaneous" reaction to hearing she was expecting her first child.