Morning top 5: At least 13 dead after mudslides in California; heavy snow leaves thousands stranded in Alps

The top stories this Wednesday morning...

At least 13 people have been killed by mudslides in California.

Heavy downpours in communities along the US state's coastline sent boulders and tons of debris rolling down hills.

Officials are warning the number of victims is likely to rise.

***

Thousands of tourists have been left stranded by heavy snow in the Alps.

Towns and villages in France, Switzerland and Italy have been cut off.

In many areas skiing has been banned because of the risk of avalanches, with the warning level raised to the maximum of five in some areas.

***

The Cabinet will consider changes to Ireland's abortion laws this morning.

Health Minister Simon Harris will present his plans for a referendum and the new laws that could come in.

The Oireachtas committee on the 8th amendment recommended to allow abortion without restriction for up to 12 weeks into the pregnancy.

***

The family of murdered prison officer Brian Stack claims 'very significant' information was withheld from a Garda investigation team by another section of the force.

It's claimed the information, which had reportedly come from an IRA informant and contained details of those responsible, had been on a file in Garda HQ since 1990.

Mr Stack's son, Austin, wants the Taoiseach to to demand answers from the Garda Commissioner.

***

More than a thousand budding scientists are hoping to impress on day one of the BT Young Scientist and Technology exhibition.

The President will kick off proceedings at the RDS in Dublin this afternoon before it opens to the public tomorrow.

550 projects have been submitted, with around 50,000 visitors expected at the exhibition between Thursday and Saturday.