While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, June 24 edition

Brexit referendum: Polls close and counting gets under way

Polls for a historic referendum in Britain have closed, 15 hours after they opened to torrential downpours and floods in much of south-east England, including the capital city London. 

Counting will officially start at 382 local counting areas, with the districts of Sunderland and Wandsworth likely to be the first ones to declare their results at about 12.30am (7.30am Singapore time).

The vote is being closely watched not only in Europe but also around the world.


Armed man who opened fire in cinema complex in Germany shot dead by police: Reports

A masked and armed man barricaded himself in a German multiplex cinema with dozens of people inside Thursday (June 23) before being killed by police, officials said.

No hostages were injured in the complex in the western town of Viernheim, 75km south of Frankfurt, Hesse state interior minister Peter Beuth said.

The attacker, who carried a rifle or "long gun", acted alone and appeared to have been a "disturbed man", Beuth told the regional parliament.


Colombia and FARC sign historic ceasefire accord, peace within sight

Colombia's government and the FARC rebels signed a historic ceasefire deal in Havana on Thursday (June 23), bringing them tantalisingly close to ending the last major leftist insurgency in Latin America after more than five decades of war.

President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Timoleon Jimenez signed the deal and shook hands at a ceremony in Cuba alongside international leaders.

The deal establishes "a bilateral ceasefire and end to hostilities and the definitive laying down of arms," according to the text read out by Cuban mediator Rodolfo Benitez.


Volkswagen to pay $13.4 billion in US over emissions scandal: source

Volkswagen has agreed to pay US$10 billion (S$13.4 billion) to settle a huge US civil case over its diesel emissions-cheating scandal, a person familiar with the negotiations told AFP on Thursday (June 23).

As part of the settlement, Volkswagen would compensate owners of around 480,000 2.0-litre diesel cars up to US$7,000 in cash each, and would also fund a programme to fight air pollution, the person said.

Volkswagen admitted in September that it had installed software on diesel cars that tricked US emissions tests into showing that the cars met environmental standards. After testing, the device switched off, allowing the vehicles to spew up to 40 times the permitted amounts of nitrogen oxides.


Dutch crops grown on 'Mars' soil found safe to eat

Dutch scientists said on Thursday that crops of four vegetables and cereals grown on soil similar to that on Mars have been found safe to eat, amid plans for the first manned mission to the planet.

Abundant harvests of radishes, peas, rye and tomatoes all grown on the soil were found to contain "no dangerous levels" of heavy metals, said the team from Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

"These remarkable results are very promising," said senior ecologist Wieger Wamelink.