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Russia 'laughed at' first set of EU sanctions

Former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, a candidate to be the next European Commission president, said Russia "laughed" at the scope of the first set of EU sanctions and called for a much tougher line.

He said:

I think it is absolutely necessary to have a broader range of sanctions and a broader list of people included in the sanction list because, let's be honest, the first list, they have laughed with it in Moscow because they were only officials of the second drawer and it is absolutely necessary to include a number of key players around Vladimir Putin.

Now the time is there, because there is no political dialogue for the moment around the crisis in the Crimea, to really include Putin's allies and top officials.

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Belgium extends euthanasia law to terminally ill kids

Belgium's parliament has voted in favour of extending a law that allows euthanasia to terminally ill children. Euthanasia among terminally ill adults was already legal in the country.

More: Belgium set to legalise euthanasia for children

Belgium set to legalise euthanasia for children

Belgium, one of the few countries where euthanasia is legal, has sparked controversy by going forward with plans to abolish age restrictions on who can ask to be put to death, extending the right to children for the first time.

One poll found that the legislation is supported by around 75 percent of Belgians, but it has sparked protests and criticism from paediatricians who fear vulnerable children will be talked into the decision.

Protesters, who call themselves the "yellow jackets", protest against a new law authorising euthanasia for children. Credit: Reuters

Under the current law, terminally ill children must wait until they turn 18 to request euthanasia. If the new legislation is passed, teenagers who are in advanced stages of cancer or other terminal illnesses will be able to end their lives.

The House of Representatives widely expected to pass the law in a vote scheduled for Thursday.

Besides Belgium, the only other countries to have legalised euthanasia are the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Mayor of Brussels' underpants stolen

A pair of underpants belonging to the Mayor of Brussels has been stolen from a museum showcasing underwear belonging to Belgian politicians and artists.

Until recently one of the key exhibits at the Brussels Underpants Museum was a pair of briefs donated and signed by the Mayor of Brussels, Yvan Mayeur.

Landlord Jan Bucquoy told the website brusselnieuws.be: "We only noticed the theft last Sunday. The underpants were exhibited in the pub. It's a lot easier to steal the pants there than in the museum on the first floor".

Mr Bucquoy now intends to ask Mr Mayeur for a replacement pair.

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Record-breaking 5,000 book domino chain completed

A Belgium book association claim they have set a new world record for the longest book domino chain composed of almost 5,000 second-hand books.

A total of 4,845 books smoothly tumbled along the route which took six minutes to complete on Monday.

Once the route had been completed, the books set off fireworks to the delight of onlookers.

The association behind the record-breaking event, Boek.be, revealed that it had taken 40 volunteers two hours to painstakingly set up the lines of books.

The association even made an attempt to break their own record with 5.005 books the next day, but unfortunately the second domino chain failed to reach.

'Delays expected' in identifying plane victims' bodies

Belgian authorities said three of eleven passengers, who were killed in a skydiving accident, had tried to save themselves by jumping from the plane but they were too late.

The country's prime minister Elio Di Rupo, warned it could take some time before all the victims were identified.

As the aircraft fell into a spin, there was an explosion on the ground, followed by a fire.

So, in terms of identifying the bodies, some will be identified quickly, but for others, there may be a delay, which of course will make the circumstances even more dramatic and terrible for the families.

Judicial inquiry launched after skydiving tragedy

Belgium's interior minister Joelle Milquet speaks at a press conference. Credit: Reuters

Belgium's interior minister Joelle Milquet has said part of a plane in which 11 people died appeared to have broken off, causing the aircraft to nosedive to the ground.

"It seems that one of the wings became detached shortly before the crash and that completely destabilised the plane. Now, the experts are at the scene. The investigating judge and the prosecutor's office are leading a judicial inquiry", she said.

Deaths in skydiving accident a 'national tragedy'

A local mayor described a plane crash which killed 11 people in Belgium yesterday as a national tragedy.

The mayor of Namur province said all of those on board the small Pilatus plane had been killed when the aircraft came down in the central Belgian region.

What happened today is a tragedy. It's a tragedy for the families, it's a tragedy for the whole nation which hasn't had to face such an accident for very many years. This evening, 11 families are bereaved.

– MAXIME PREVOT, NAMUR PROVINCE MAYOR
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