Seven killed in Canada plane crash

Former Canadian cabinet minister Jean Lapierre has died in a plane crash that also killed his wife and three of his siblings on the way to his father's funeral in eastern Quebec.

The provincial coroner said all seven people on board the aircraft were killed in yesterday's crash, including Mr Lapierre's wife, two of his brothers and a sister. The other two people killed were crew members.

The TVA network, for which Mr Lapierre worked as a political commentator, said his twin-engined chartered aircraft crashed in bad weather as it was coming in to land.

Photos from the scene showed the Mitsubishi plane lying in several pieces in a snow-covered field.

Colombia announces formal peace talks

Colombia has announced formal peace talks with its second-largest leftist rebel group are to take place in Equador, moving the nation a step closer to ending the five-decade conflict.

The government and the National Liberation Army have been in preliminary talks for over two years. The group recently freed two hostages, which President Juan Manuel Santos had demanded ahead of the start of formal talks.

"The exploratory phase of the talks has finished and they have agreed to begin formal negotiations," the source from Colombia's peace commissioner's office told Reuters.

Cuba, Norway, Venezuela, Chile, Brazil and Ecuador will act as guarantor nations, the source said, adding that negotiations would be separate from those under way in Havana with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, the country's largest Marxist rebel group.

Garda injured when patrol car struck

A garda was injured while responding to reports of a burglary in Fermoy in Co Cork last night.

The officer was hurt when his patrol car was struck by a black Audi A4 car, which was then driven off from the scene, near Lismore in Co Waterford just before 9pm.

Gardaí were responding to reports that a criminal gang had carried out a series of burglaries on the Cork-Waterford border, incluing areas around Fermoy, Tallow and Lismore.

The officer was treated by a local doctor before being taken to Cork University Hospital with back and neck injuries.

Search for US student missing in Siberia

Russian police, rescue workers and volunteers are searching for a US student who went missing in a Siberian village three days ago.

The 25-year-old student - identified as Colin Madsen on his social media pages - disappeared early Sunday after arriving in the mainly Buddhist region of Buryatia in eastern Siberia for a hiking trip, the regional Investigative Committee said in a statement.

The US student was staying overnight with a group of friends in the village of Arshan at the foot of the Sayan Mountains, located west of Lake Baikal. 

The missing student has been studying in the eastern Siberian city of Irkutsk at the local branch of Moscow State Linguistic University since 2013 and speaks fluent Russian. He had previously visited Arshan four times.

Hollande drops constitution change plans

France's president has said he will not push ahead with plans to change the constitution, including a clause allowing convicted terrorists to be stripped of their French nationality, after parliament failed to agree on the measure.

The plan's withdrawal is a major blow for Francois Hollande, who had introduced it in an address to parliament at Versailles three days after Islamist militants killed 130 people in Paris.

The initiative had divided politicians and caused months of heated discussions on what critics said was an inefficient and purely symbolic measure.

Mr Hollande's plan to insert into the constitution the rules for a state of emergency was also abandoned.