Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 5 Feb 2014

1. THOUSANDS WITHOUT POWER AS STORMS RAGE

Up to 6,000 homes, mainly in Devon and Cornwall, were left without power as winds of up to 80mph battered the southwest of England and Ireland. The storms caused "major damage" to the train track at Dawlish after a seawall was destroyed by waves. Severe gales and heavy rains are forecast for the rest of today - and further ahead.

UK floods: ministers to quiz insurers over claims

2. LONDON: TUBE STRIKE HITS COMMUTERS

Underground stations across London remain closed today, the first day of a 48-hour strike by staff over job cuts and plans to scrap ticket offices, causing transport chaos across the capital. RMT Union leader Bob Crow today urged Boris Johnson to meet the unions to discuss the job cuts, saying: “The mayor should do the honourable thing and meet us.”

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Tube commuters face more delays as engineers begin industrial action

3. NYPD ARRESTS FOUR AFTER HOFFMAN DEATH

Police in New York have arrested four people in connection with drugs found inside the apartment of the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was found dead with a needle in his arm on Sunday. Around 50 envelopes containing heroin, some opened and some not, were found in the 46-year-old actor’s Manhattan home.

4. TEN HURT IN ESSEX GAS EXPLOSION

Ten people have been hurt in a gas explosion that destroyed two houses and seriously damaged a third in Clacton in Essex. A man in his 70s was airlifted to hospital with life-threatening injuries and a woman in her 50s was severely burned. Eight others taken to hospital with injuries including burns and broken legs.

5. WARNING OVER CHINA 'BIRD FLU' DEATH

Scientists in China have warned of a potential bird flu pandemic after a new strain of the disease – H10N8 – killed an elderly woman and infected another woman last month. The 73-year-old victim from Nanchang in China is believed to have become infected after visiting a poultry market. The second victim remains in hospital.

H10N8: should we be worried about new bird flu strain?

6. UN CONDEMNS VATICAN OVER CHILD ABUSE

The UN has denounced the Vatican and called on it to "immediately remove" all clergy who are known or suspected child abusers. The demand came in a report from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child which attacked the Holy See for adopting policies that allowed priests to abuse children. It also criticised attitudes towards homosexuality, contraception and abortion.

7. BECKHAM ANNOUNCES US SOCCER FRANCHISE

David Beckham today confirmed that he is to launch a Major League Soccer franchise in Miami. He made the announcement at a press conference with MLS commissioner Don Garber. "I wanted to create a team from scratch," he said. "We're making a global football team." The team is expected to compete from 2016.

8. PRINCE POPS UP IN LONDON LIVING ROOM

Funk guitarist and singer Prince played two surprise gigs in London yesterday, keeping publicity low and fans guessing beforehand. With backing band 3RDEYEGIRL, he played songs in the living room of soul singer Lianne La Havas beside a cosy log fire, before heading to Camden’s Electric Ballroom.

Prince's secret London gig heralds upcoming tour - video

9. SAFETY FEARS OVER SOCHI SKI COURSE

Snowboard superstar Shaun White has pulled out of the slopestyle competition at the Winter Olympics in Sochi citing safety fears about the course. Norwegian Torstein Horgmo broke his collarbone in practice on Monday, and other competitors have expressed concerns. White told USA Today: "The risk of injury is a bit too much for me to gamble my other Olympic goals on."

10. HOT TICKET: ROYAL OPERA DON GIOVANNI

The Royal Opera's new production of Don Giovanni has opened at Covent Garden. Mozart's opera blends comedy and melodrama in a tale that follows Don Giovanni's odyssey of sexual conquests and the crime that triggers his supernatural undoing. "Invigorating," says the Daily Telegraph. Until 12 February.

Royal Opera's Don Giovanni - reviews of Mozart opera

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