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Earthquake strikes New Zealand city

The earthquake's epicentre was 15km east of Christchurch Credit: Google Maps

A 5.7 magnitude earthquake has struck near Christchurch, on New Zealand's east coast.

The quake caused cliffs to collapse into the sea, but no injuries and no major damage to the city was reported.

The epicentre of Sunday's earthquake was 15km east of Christchurch, the country's seismological body Geonet, said.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said: "Obviously with a 5.7 magnitude earthquake so close to the eastern coast of Christchurch its certainly been a big shock for the city, a set back in terms of people's confidence and feeling of security."

In 2011, Christchurch was devastated by an earthquake which killed nearly 200 people.

Obama confirms he will nominate Scalia's replacement

President Barack Obama has confirmed he will nominate a successor to Justice Antonin Scalia, following the death of the respected conservative Supreme Court judge.

"I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities," Mr Obama said, but added "there will be plenty of time to do so".

He paid tribute to Justice Scalia, saying that "at this moment we most of all want to think about his family".

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Obama 'will nominate Scalia's Supreme Court replacement'

The US flag outside the Supreme Court flies at half-mast following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia Credit: Reuters

Barack Obama intends to nominate a Supreme Court judge following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, according to a report on CNN.

If confirmed, the move is significant as by convention the president does not make a Supreme Court nomination in an election year.

"The fact of the matter is that it's been standard practice over the last 80 years to not confirm Supreme Court nominees during a presidential election year," Chuck Grassley, a Republican senator and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.

But Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy said Mr Obama had a duty to make a nomination as the Supreme Court was "too important to our democracy" to be left for months with a vacancy.

'Multiple fatalities' reported in US highway pile-up

Forty people have been taken to hospital following the crash Credit: RTV/NBC

There have been "multiple fatalities" following a 50 car pile-up on a highway in Pennsylvania, according to a report on NBC, quoting an official from the state's emergency management agency.

The official did not say how many people had been killed.

Forty people have been taken to hospital following the crash, which occurred outside Harrisburg and closed both lanes of the I-78 highway.

US Supreme Court judge Scalia dies aged 79

Justice Scalia was one of the most conservative members of the US top court Credit: Reuters

US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has died aged 79.

According to a CNN report he died in his sleep at home, having told friends he did not feel well.

Appointed by President Ronald Regan in 1986, Justice Scalia was one of the most conservative members of the US top court.

"On behalf of the court and retired justices, I am saddened to report that our colleague Justice Antonin Scalia has passed away," Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement.

The judge's death looks set to create a political dispute between President Barack Obama and the Republican-controlled Senate over who should replace him.

Russia accused of jeopardising peace in Syria

Russia has been accused by its western allies of jeopardising peace in Syria by bombing the wrong targets as a recently agreed ceasefires hangs in the balance.

But Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has spoken during a security conference in Munich to deny that Russian forces are bombing civilians.

ITV Political Correspondent Paul Brand reports:

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Pope urges Mexican bishops to take stand against drugs

Pope Francis is making his first visit to Mexico since becoming Pontiff. Credit: Reuters

Pope Francis has called on bishops in Mexico to courageously take a stand against drugs, gangs and corruption on his first visit to the country as Pontiff.

Speaking with Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto by his side at the National Palace, Francis said social, cultural and political leaders had a duty to help citizens stand up against the drug trade, which he said "devours like a metastasis."

He told them to make it clear to drug dealers that they could not consider themselves good Catholics if their hands were "drenched in blood, but pockets filled with sordid money and their consciences deadened."

More than 100,000 people have been killed in drug violence in Mexico over the last decade - about 26,000 are missing.

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