Europe

Europe's mission to Mercury returns first pictures

The probe took the images shortly after it zipped over the little world at an altitude of just 200km (125 miles).

Controllers have planned a further five such flybys, each time using the gravitational tug of Mercury to help control the speed of the spacecraft.

The aim is for Bepi to be moving slow enough that eventually it can take up a stable orbit around the planet.

This should happen by the end of 2025.

Iceland elects Europe's first female majority parliament

According to projections based on the final election results, 33 of the 63 seats in the Althingi, or 52%, have been won by women.

This would mark an increase of nine seats from the last election in 2017.

No other European country has breached the 50% threshold, with Sweden coming closest at 47%, according to data from the Inter Parliamentary Union.

Unlike some other countries, Iceland does not have legal quotas on female representation in parliament, though some parties do require a minimum number of candidates be women.

Covid wave intensifies in Central Europe

Czech authorities on Tuesday sent the first patient abroad for treatment in Poland as facilities struggled to cope.

In Hungary, meanwhile, the number of cases in the current wave has surpassed the previous peak in December.

Schools and most shops were closed on Monday amid rising infections.

Cases are also on the rise in Poland, where the government recorded the highest number of daily cases since late November on Wednesday, with 17,260 new infections. A health ministry spokesman complained of "increased looseness" among Poles towards anti-Covid measures.

More cases of new Covid variant found in Europe

The infections, linked to people who had come from the UK, were reported in Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

The details given a week ago of the new variant in England triggered travel curbs from dozens of countries.

Several EU countries have started to vaccinate people against the virus.

Health workers in north-east Germany said they were not prepared to wait another day for Sunday's co-ordinated rollout across the bloc of the newly approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. They began by immunizing elderly residents of a nursing home in Halberstadt.

Italy imposes regional lockdown as Europe battles Covid-19 surges

Italy is now split into three zones: red for high risk, then orange and yellow. The red areas are Lombardy, Piedmont and Aosta Valley in the north and Calabria in the south.

The whole country has a night curfew.

In neighbouring Slovenia police clashed with violent anti-lockdown protesters.

Riot police used water cannon and teargas to disperse the crowd of several hundred outside parliament in the capital Ljubljana. Some demonstrators threw bottles, stones and smoke bombs at officers.

Chiefs crowned kings of Europe

Playing in the showpiece match for the first time, Exeter were always ahead after scoring early tries but Racing, desperate to avoid a third final defeat, kept battling back and made it a one-point game going into the final 10 minutes, when Exeter were reduced to 14.

The English side held out though in a heroic goalline defence that will go down in club folklore, before flyhalf Joe Simmonds slotted a last-minute penalty to settle it.

Hundreds arrested as crime chat network cracked

Germany and France announce strict measures to stem spread of coronavirus

French President Emmanuel Macron announced an enforced lockdown, a step similar to curbs imposed by Italy and Spain, saying: "We're in a health war".

Mr Macron also said the European Union's external borders would be closed to travellers from Tuesday.

In Germany, most non-grocery shops and venues have been ordered to shut.

Chancellor Angela Merkel also banned religious services and told people to cancel any domestic or foreign holiday travel. Schools across the country have already been shut.

All travel from Europe to US suspended for 30 days

But he said the "strong but necessary" restrictions would not apply to the UK, where 460 cases of the virus have now been confirmed.

There are 1135 confirmed cases of the virus across the US, with 38 deaths.

"To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days," Trump said.

"The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight," he added.

"We are marshalling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people," he said.

Coronavirus: First death confirmed in Europe

The victim was an 80-year-old man from China's Hubei province, according to French Health Minister Agnès Buzyn.

He arrived in France on 16 January and was placed in quarantine in hospital in Paris on 25 January, she said.

Only three deaths had previously been reported outside mainland China - in Hong Kong, the Philippines and Japan.

However, 1,523 people have died from the virus within China, mostly in Hubei where it first emerged. These include 143 deaths newly reported on Saturday by the country's national health commission.