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Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images(ROME) -- As many as 700 refugees and migrants were reportedly onboard a boat that capsized in the Mediterranean Sea on Sunday morning, with many feared dead.

Adrian Edwards, Head of News and Chief Spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, called the incident a "catastrophe" on Twitter, noting that it "may be [the] biggest ever." Similar incidents aren't terribly uncommon. Edwards noted on Twitter that in 219,000 crossings last year, 3,500 people died. In about 35,000 crossings in 2015 -- Sunday's notwithstanding -- 950 individuals have died.

 

New Mediterranean catastrophe may be biggest ever. Still hearing only a few dozen survivors from boat said carrying 700 #refugees & migrants

— Adrian Edwards (@AdrianEdwrds) April 19, 2015

Mediterranean facts update: - 219K crossings in 2014 & 3500 deaths; - 35K crossings so far in 2015 & 950 deaths (today's no.s not incl.)

— Adrian Edwards (@AdrianEdwrds) April 19, 2015



Numerous ships are involved in the search for survivors, though Italian news agency ANSA reported only 28 survivors had been picked up through Sunday afternoon local time.

The Maltese Navy is assisting Italian officials with the search.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is calling for a European Union meeting on immigration as soon as possible.

The United Nations Human Rights Campaign reported saving thousands of migrants from the Mediterranean last week.

 

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Pawel Gaul/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Agency for International Development announced this weekend that it would provide $126 million in funds to help rebuild health services in Ebola-affected nations in West Africa.

The agency says the money will be used to "help Liberia, Sierra Leone, and guinea restart critical health services that stopped due to the Ebola outbreak, including vaccinations, water and sanitation services, prenatal and maternal health care and nutrition, and programs to prevent and treat malaria and other infectious diseases."

"USAID has helped West African nations by beating back the Ebola outbreak." Associate Administrator Mark Feierstein said. "Now we're helping ensure people have food to eat, schools are open and educating children, people are able to communicate through a strong infrastructure network, and families can support themselves by returning to jobs and markets."

With help from the international community, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been slowed. In Liberia, in particular, the number of new Ebola cases has dropped from 50 per day to zero.

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Marcio Silva/iStock/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- Kurdish forces have seized large expanses of ISIS-held terrain in northern Iraq, the U.S.-led coalition said in a Sunday statement.

During the operations, the Kurdish Peshmerga cleared 11 villages of enemy combatants and restored security to an area about 25 square miles in size. The Peshmerga were assisted by coalition air strikes, which destroyed ISIS weapons systems and fighting positions.

"The operation is yet another example demonstrating the commitment and ability of our partners to defeat [ISIS] forces on the battlefield in Iraq," Lt. Gen. James Terry, commander of the coalition forces said. "The determined efforts of the Peshmerga, combined with coalition support, further denies [ISIS] key terrain and freedom of movement in Northern Iraq."

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Photo by Emrah Yorulmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(ERBIL, Iraq) -- ISIS has claimed responsibility for the bombing that killed at least three people near the U.S. consulate in northern Iraq.

The blast outside the consulate injured several others on Friday, but U.S. officials said no personnel at the consulate were hurt in the bombing.

The extremist group also claimed to have carried out bombings in Baghdad that killed more than two dozen people.

The attacks come as the hardline fighters are attempting to take over the western Iraqi city of Ramadi, where gunmen have seized villages in recent days.

More than 2,000 families have fled the city and are residing outside the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

However, Iraqi forces were able to repel the Islamic States assault on the northern city of Bajji, a key center for oil refining, with the help of U.S.-led airstrikes.

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TkKurikawa/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(MELBOURNE, Australia) -- Five Australian teenagers were arrested Saturday on suspicion of planning a terror attack.

The five men, between the ages of 18 and 19, were arrested after 200 state and federal police officers raided seven homes in Melbourne.

The planning of the attack was described by police as being inspired by ISIS, and aimed at police officers.

“Some evidence that we have collected at a couple of the scenes, and some other information we have, leads us to believe that this particular matter was ISIS inspired,” said Australian Federal Police Acting Deputy Commissioner Neil Gaughan in a news conference Saturday.

Despite admitting sharp edged knives were intended to be involved, Gaughan stopped short of the saying that beheadings were planned.

The alleged attacks were set to take place during an ANZAC Day parade, which commemorates Australian and New Zealand troops during Battle of Gallipoli from World War I.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Saturday that police have been handling similar threats for several months

“All you need these days is a knife, a flag and a camera and one can commit a terrorist attack. So it's very different, it's a different paradigm for us,“ he said.

Abbott urged citizens to be defiant and live free and fair normal lives after the latest plot was thwarted.

“Please don't be deterred,” Abbot said. “Turn up in the largest possible numbers to support our country, to support our values, to support our armed forces.”

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izustun/iStock/Thinkstock(JALALABAD, Afghanistan) -- ISIS took credit for a suicide bombing that killed at least 33 people and injured more than 100 others in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday.

The blast occurred near a bank in Jalalabad, capital of the Nangarhar province, where soldiers and Afghan government employees receive their salaries. Police said the incident happened in morning rush hour, when most people were waiting in front of the bank to collect their salaries

At least one other bomb found outside the bank was later detonated by police.

The Pakistani government, which is working with Afghanistan on counter-terrorism, condemned the attack on Saturday, calling it "cowardly and indiscriminate" in a statement.

"We send our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims and pray for speedy recovery of the injured," the statement read.

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) --  Italy’s young Prime Minister is hoping to bring back to Rome some much needed hope and change after his visit with President Obama.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi met with Obama on Friday, and discussed issues such as the American-European cooperation in Ukraine, the Iran nuclear deal, and at top of Italy’s agenda, how to help quell the chaos in Libya.

Italy is struggling to cope with huge numbers of migrants escaping war in Syria, various African nations and Libya. The groups of migrants are crossing on small crowded boats in an attempt make it to Italy’s south.

In the last week, the Italian coast guard has rescued well over 10,000 people.

Like Obama, Renzi is a young leader, just 40 years old, and has come up against fierce opposition to a series of reforms he says are desperately needed to pull Italy out of its longest post-war recession.

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File photo. Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images(IRBIL, Iraq) -- A car bomb exploded Friday just outside the U.S. consulate in Irbil, Iraq.

It's unclear how many people may have been injured or killed, but local reports from northern Iraq say some foreigners were injured.

The State Department says all American personnel have been accounted for.

"A vehicle-born improvised explosive device (VBIED) was detonated directly outside an entry point on the perimeter of the U.S. Consulate in Erbil, Iraq on April 17," a senior State Department said in a statement provided to ABC News. "All Chief of Mission personnel have been accounted for and there are no reports of injuries to Chief of Mission personnel or local guards."

The official said local security forces have responded to the scene and are securing the area.


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OLIVER BERG/AFP/Getty Images(COLOGNE, Germany) -- Hundreds gathered Friday in an emotional memorial service for those who perished in the Germanwings Flight 9525 crash last month.

Most of those who died on Flight 9525 were Germans or Spaniards, and in their honor, candles were lit to honor each victim in the cathedral.

The tearful service, which included German politicians and family members, was carried live on German television.

Lufthansa, the parent airline of Germanwings, took out full-page ads in many of Germany's leading newspapers on Friday expressing sympathy. Flags were also ordered flown at half-staff around the country.

Prosecutors have said co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed the plane into the French Alps on the way from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, killing all 150 aboard.  Authorities continue to investigate Lubitz’s actions.

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Hope Milam/iStock/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- One of Saddam Hussein former top officials has reportedly been killed.

Iraqi officials said on Friday that Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, Saddam's former deputy who later allied himself with ISIS, is believed to have been killed in fighting east of Tikrit.

A senior commander said he was killed while in a convoy along with his bodyguards.

In the George W. Bush era, al-Douri was known as the “king of clubs” in the deck of playing cards issued to help troops identify key members of Saddam's regime.

Iraqi officials said on Friday that DNA tests are now underway.

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Getty Images(ROME) -- Pope Francis may soon give a further boost to U.S.-Cuban relations.

Citing a person familiar with the situation, The Wall Street Journal reports the pope is considering making a stop in in Cuba in September as part of his trip to Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia. The Vatican says nothing is confirmed yet.

Pope Francis played a major role in helping to broker a deal to renew relations between the two countries last December, with a groundbreaking meeting taking place at the Vatican just weeks before the deal was announced.

If the pope does make it Cuba, it will be a third papal visit to the country.

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Best Buddies(BOSTON) -- Alosha O'Brien was born perfectly healthy, but after living through the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster when he was nearly 2, his body didn't grow properly, and he developed disabilities.

Now 30 and living with his adoptive family in the United States since leaving Ukraine, O'Brien mostly gets around with the help of crutches or a wheel chair. He never could have guessed that he would be preparing for his second Boston Marathon, where he'll be pushed in a specially designed wheelchair by Craig Welton, the Massachusetts director of Best Buddies International, a nonprofit working to give opportunities to people with disabilities.

"Your dreams can be true," O'Brien told ABC News. "You have to believe instead of always thinking negatively. There are people around the world, so many, that are nice."

O'Brien's chair was specially designed for him by Team Hoyt, the father-son team that became a fixture at the Boston Marathon after running it more than 30 times, including last year. Dick Hoyt pushed his son Rick, who has cerebral palsy, for the first time in 1977.

To O'Brien, the Hoyts are celebrities, he said.

"They are just inspiring at what they do," O'Brien said, adding that he met them last year. "To me, they're amazing."

O'Brien, who is often approached by strangers who know his name, has become a celebrity in his own right, but he said Welton is the real hero.

"It's not the easiest to run 26.2 miles, especially pushing a chair," he said. "He’s a great guy because... he can make things happen and believes that yes, you can do it. And there's no answer that you can't."

Welton told ABC News the two of them have run three marathons together so far because they needed to qualify for each Boston Marathon. They talk the whole time, and O'Brien plays music from his iPod on speakers attached to the chair. The first time they approached a big hill, Welton said he'll never forget when O'Brien changed the song to "Eye of the Tiger."

"It was hysterical," he said. "Everyone running around us is just laughing. It made it easier for all the other runners."

Welton said the race is a great opportunity for O'Brian to show the world that being different isn't a bad thing. "He's a great example of what people with disabilities are capable of doing if given the opportunity," he said.

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ABC News/Rob Wallace(ISTANBUL) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warned Friday that the conflict in his country is not limited to its borders and Europe should prepare for potential terror attacks.

Speaking with Swedish television from the Syrian capital Damascus, al-Assad issued an ominous prediction.

"As long as the backyard of Europe, especially the Mediterranean and Northern Africa, is in chaos and full of terrorists, Europe cannot be safe," he said.

Al-Assad also criticized European officials for their supposed admiration of Saudi Arabia and Qatar "just for their money."

His remarks follow a report that the death toll from fighting in Syria has exceeded 220,000.

The violence there began shortly after March 2011 demonstrations that evolved into armed revolt against Syrian regime forces. Since then, the emergence of hardline extremist groups like the Islamic State and Al Nusra Front have taken over large portions of the country.

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ABC News(LONDON) -- For three decades, the world has been transfixed by little royal boys in line for the British throne -- beginning with the duo of Princes Wiliam and Harry and most recently continuing to William’s first-born, Prince George.

As Prince William, 32, and his wife, Duchess Kate, 33, prepare to welcome their second child, there is a resounding question: Could this little royal at last be a girl?

“People love George but let’s face it, there’s nothing like a princess in a dress,” said ABC News’ royal contributor Victoria Murphy. "I think if it’s a girl it’s a much bigger story.”

In London, the great Kate wait is in full swing.

The barriers have been put up at the Lindo Wing at St. Mary’s Hospital, where the Duchess of Cambridge is expected to soon welcome her second child and the fourth-in-line to the British throne. Media pens were installed Thursday outside the hospital and the Palace has marked off the spots for major media organizations.

Royal insiders insist William and Kate do not know if the baby is a girl or a boy.

Bookies in London taking bets on royal baby names have posted odds that the new royal sibling will be a girl called Alice at 5-4. Elizabeth and Charlotte are second at 6-1. Victoria and the sentimental favorite Diana, in memory of the baby’s late grandmother, come in at 14-1. The name Alexandra has dropped to 16-1

Among the name favorites for a boy, Arthur and James now topping the betting lists at U.K-based betting company Ladbrokes at 20-1. Phillip and Henry, the proper name of the baby’s uncle, Prince Harry, are not far behind at 25-1.

Even more exciting are the 7-1 odds from the William Hill betting agency that the royal baby bundle of joy will be born this weekend. Duchess Kate has said only that she is due sometime between now and the end of April.

If the royal baby comes later this month, he or she could share a birthday with the Queen -- who turns 89 on April 21 -- or arrive on its parents’ fourth wedding anniversary, April 29.

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@AstroTerry/Twitter/NASA(NEW YORK) -- How appropriate that the SpaceX Dragon would arrive Friday morning, with the first-ever espresso machine in space.

Now, the astronauts just have to unpack the cargo to find it.

More than 4,000 pounds of groceries, supplies and science experiments are on board the capsule, which blasted off Tuesday for the International Space Station.

The capsule was captured with the International Space Station's robotic arm at 6:55 a.m. EDT as the station orbited 257 miles over the Pacific Ocean, just east of Japan. Astronauts live on Greenwich Mean Time, meaning Dragon arrived just before noon.

After the cargo is unloaded, Dragon will remain berthed at the International Space Station until around May 21, at which point it will splash down in the Pacific Ocean and will be recovered for use in future runs to the International Space Station.

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