Morning top 5: Defence Forces members spend Christmas overseas; hundreds volunteer for charity Christmas dinners

The top stories this Christmas morning...

More than 420 members of the Defence Forces are spending this Christmas Day overseas.

Irish Troops serving in fifteen different countries will sit down to Christmas dinner in countries including Mali, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The largest mission is with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon with 198 serving military personnel.

139 members of the Defence Forces are currently deployed to the Golan Heights in Syria with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force.

***

Hundreds of volunteers will give up their Christmas Day later to feed those in need.

The biggest charity Christmas dinner will be held in Dublin's RDS, where it's predicted 2,500 people will turn up.

Helpers will also offer free transport to and from the venue, while others provide the entertainment.

All guests will leave with a goody bag with food, toiletries, soft drinks and household items.

***

A 51-year-old man is still being questioned over a large cocaine haul at Dublin Port yesterday.

€770,000 worth of the drug was found aboard a haulage truck which had travelled from the Netherlands.

The man is being held at Store Street Garda station under Drug Trafficking legislation.

*** 

More than 100 people have been killed after a gas tanker truck exploded at a crowded gas plant in Nigeria.

It happened as people lined up to refill gas cylinders in time for cooking Christmas meals in Nnewi, a predominantly Christian community in the southeast of the country.

The Associated Press news agency said 100 bodies had been seen by the time firefighters were able to put out the fire, which is reported to have raged for hours.

*** 

The number of people killed in violent storms sweeping the US has now reached 14 across three states.

A teenage girl and two 22-year-old males are now also known to have died in Tennessee.

At least 20 tornadoes hit America's south and midwest.

Torrential storms dumped also 10 inches of rain across parts of southeast Alabama.