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Botanist comes out of coma after contracting deadly virus from mosquito bite

A leading botanist from Malton in North Yorkshire who was struck down by a deadly virus while working in China has come out of a coma.

Dr Sophie Williams

31-year-old Dr Sophie Williams, remains on life support but is showing signs of recognising her family and friends. She contracted Japanese encephalitis while carrying out research last month and has been flown to Liverpool for treatment. Her family say they'll be meeting doctors later this week to get an update on Sophie's condition.

VJ 70th anniversary commemorations continue

A second day of commemorations will take place today in Belford, Northumberland, as part of a weekend of events to mark the 70th anniversary of VJ Day.

An exhibition based on the lives and experiences of prisoners of war will be on display at Belford Museum from 10am to 5pm this afternoon.

A memorial service is also due to take place at St Mary's Parish Church in the village at 3pm.



Grandad: I'm not military-trained. I'm a white van driver

A grandfather from Washington, Tyne and Wear has travelled to Iraq to join the fight against so-called Islamic extremist group IS.

Jim Atherton, who has no military experience, has joined a Christian militia group called Dwekh Nawsha, which claims to protect Christians from attack.

He told The Sun newspaper that it was the first time he'd done anything like this.

I am not military-trained. I'm a white van driver.

I'm a European Express courier. If there is a road there I have been there and if it fits in a Sprinter van I have carried it.

I've done that for twenty plus years. I am not interested in doing anything else.

Once the fight is over here I would like to think I could start something here.

– Jim Atherton

Police concern over 'vulnerable' missing man

Brian Smith left his Teesside home on Thursday Credit: Cleveland Police

Police on Teesside are becoming increasingly concerned for the welfare of a 44 year old man who's missing from his home in Middlesbrough.

Brian Smith left his house with plans to travel to London on Thursday night.

Officers say he is vulnerable. He was seen in the capital on Friday morning but has had no contact with anyone since.

Police believe that while he may still be in London, he could also have left to travel around the country.

They're appealing for people who may know Brian to contact them with any information.

Barry Sweeney: Russia's veto of UN resolution on MH17 is "cruel"

Barry Sweeney in Rotterdam Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

The father of one of the victims, killed when flight MH17 came down over Ukraine, has told ITV News Tyne Tees that Russia's veto of a United Nations Security Council resolution is "cruel". He said, the move "stops families getting the desperate closure they need."

"If they've got nothing to hide, why are they blocking it?"

– Barry Sweeney, father of Liam Sweeney

Liam Sweeney, 28, from Newcastle, was travelling on the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border, killing all 298 people on board.

Liam Sweeney Credit: Family photo

The Malaysian Airlines plane is suspected to have been shot down by Moscow-backed separatists in Ukraine last year. Liam Sweeney was travelling with fellow Newcastle United fan John Alder. The pair were on their way to watch a pre-season friendly in New Zealand.

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