While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Feb 9

People hug each other after being rescued by Thai commandos.
People hug each other after being rescued by Thai commandos.PHOTO: AFP

Soldier kills 20 in shooting rampage in Thailand’s north-east

A Thai soldier shot dead at least 20 people on Saturday, posting messages on Facebook as he went on the rampage in a northeastern city where he was still holed up in a mall well over 12 hours after he first struck, authorities said.

Thai security forces stormed the Terminal 21 mall in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima and helped hundreds of people to escape.

Looking dazed and exhausted, shoppers and storeworkers came out in small groups into the early hours of Sunday as police and soldiers worked through the mall floor by floor.

“It was frightening because I could hear the occasional gunshot... we waited a long time for the police to come and help us, many hours.” said Suvanarat Jirattanasakul, 27, her voice trembling after she emerged.


Head of WHO-led coronavirus probe team leaving for China Monday or Tuesday

The head of a World Health Organisation-led international team investigating the coronavirus outbreak will leave for China on Monday or Tuesday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Tedros, asked whether the team would include experts from the US Centres for Disease Control (CDC), told a press conference on Saturday: "We hope so."

The death toll in mainland China rose to 723 on Saturday, the WHO said, looking likely to pass the 774 deaths recorded globally during the 2002-2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars).


In tweets, Trump defends ouster of 'insubordinate' aide Alexander Vindman

US President Donald Trump on Saturday defended the ouster of impeachment witness Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Vindman from the White House National Security Council (NSC), calling him “insubordinate” and saying he had incorrectly reported the contents of his “perfect” telephone calls.

Vindman was one of two witnesses who provided the most damaging testimony during Trump’s impeachment investigation, both of whom were ousted by the administration on Friday.

Hours after Vindman was escorted from the White House on Friday, Gordon Sondland, another key impeachment witness, said he had been ousted from his post as US ambassador to the European Union.


Sweden's Duplantis soars 6.17m to break pole vault world record

World silver medallist Mondo Duplantis realised a lifetime dream when he broke the pole vault world record on Saturday by soaring 6.17 metres on his second attempt at a World Athletics Indoor Tour meeting in Torun in Poland.

American-born Swede Duplantis broke Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie's record of 6.16m set in February 2014 in Donetsk, Ukraine.

"It's something that I wanted since I was three years old," said the 20-year-old. "It's a big year, but it's a good way to start it."


Richarlison sparks Everton win after Palace's Benteke ends drought

Everton scored twice in the second half thanks to a piece of brilliance from Richarlison and late opportunism from Dominic Calvert-Lewin to claim a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace at Goodison Park on Saturday and move up to seventh in the Premier League.

After Christian Benteke cancelled out Bernard's opener with his first Palace goal since April, Brazilian Richarlison picked up the ball on the halfway line, drove into the area and struck an unstoppable shot for his ninth league goal of the season.

Although Palace began promisingly, with Patrick van Aanholt's scruffy shot hitting the post, Everton went ahead after 18 minutes when Theo Walcott created space to deliver a perfect cross for Bernard's controlled volley.