News in 5: Missing backpacker's mystery note; Conjoined twins prepare; 250 die from selfies.

With AAP.

1. “Something strange has happened to me.” Backpacker sent mysterious note before vanishing.

The father of a Swedish backpacker who disappeared while on holiday in Australia 13 years ago is holding out hope he may still be alive.

The last Max Vidar Castor’s father heard from him was in March, 2005, when they received a box, posted from Victoria, containing his passport, return plane ticket and a letter.

“Something strange has happened to me and I don’t know how to cope with it,” the note read, according to Yahoo News.

“I am tired of myself but there is still so much beauty in the world. Now I am vanishing … no tears.”

Max was 19 years old when he flew from Stockholm to Sydney with two friends, to fulfil his long-held dream of travelling the continent, the outlet reported.

But after five months journeying up the east coast, he travelled alone to Warrnambool, Victoria, on March 31, 2005, where he mailed the mysterious note. A police investigation proved unsuccessful.

While his father, Rolf, accepts his son may never return, he doesn’t believe he is dead.

“I believe he has found some type of other community and could be living off the land, maybe even with a wife and kid,” he said. “I wouldn’t be the least bit astonished.”

If you’ve seen Max or have any information that could assist police, please call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

2. Conjoined twin girls are preparing for their delicate separation surgery.

Image: ABC News.

Conjoined twins Nima and Dawa have undergone the first in a series of tests to determine when they will be fit for delicate separation surgery.

The 14-month-old girls from Bhutan, who are joined by the torso, spent Thursday having various tests and scans at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital to give doctors an idea of when the marathon operation can proceed.

"We need to just double check everything is alright generally," anaesthetist Ian McKenzie said.


"Once we get the results of all that, we'll be very keen to make a date and plan for surgery in the future. So far, so good."

The girls underwent a four-hour MRI scan with the results to be reviewed in the coming days, before medical experts finalise their treatment plan early next week.

Mr McKenzie said the sisters would have "quite a lot of tests", because doctors had scant information before their arrival in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Nutrition levels will be an important guide, with the girls' condition meaning they cannot be weighed separately.

"They're pretty skinny, they haven't been able to practise crawling the way normal kids would, so maybe their muscles haven't developed so well but we want to just double check everything is alright, generally," Mr McKenzie said.

"There's a whole lot of things they might have got in Bhutan they wouldn't get in Australia, and we need to just have our guard up that we haven't got a surprise illness we hadn't thought of, that might be very common there."

The planned separation at the Royal Children's Hospital includes splitting the girls' shared liver.

The hospital's head paediatric surgeon Joe Crameri is reassured the twins are active and interacting with one another and that mum has been feeding the girls well.

"They look like happy healthy girls who are reacting quite well with one another," he said.


"So far, everything is going along the pathway that we've been hoping for."

Dr Crameri said image scans will be key to determining if it's the right time for the girls to separate.

The surgery and recovery are estimated to cost at least $350,000.

The state government pledged to cover the surgery, with other funds raised to go towards the girls' stay, rehabilitation and future.

3. More than 250 people have died while trying to take a selfie, research finds.

Couple Taking Selfie
Image: Getty

More than 250 people have died while trying to take a selfie, according to new research.

Investigations by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences suggests that there were 259 selfie-related deaths in 137 incidents from October 2011 to November 2017.

A total of 98 people died a selfie-related death in 2016.

The findings, published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, were collated by tracking references to "selfie deaths" and "selfie accidents" in news reports from around the world.

Drowning, fire and falling are among the most commonly listed causes of death in these circumstances, and it is far more common for men to die trying to take a selfie than women.

Of the recorded deaths, 72.5 per cent were among men, and only 27.5 per cent among women, with men found to be more prone to risky behaviour when taking selfies.

The average age of a person recorded as dying while taking a selfie was 22.9 years, but the recorded ages ranged from 10 to 68 years.

The researchers estimated that as many as one million selfies are taken by the 18-24 demographic each day.

The majority of recorded selfie deaths occurred in India, with 159 incidents in total, while Russia and the US recorded 16 and 14 deaths respectively.

4. The UK is looking to poach Australian GPs to rectify their doctor shortage.


Britain's National Health Service (NHS) is to offer cash incentives to Australian GP's in an attempt to fill an alarming shortage of family doctors across the country.

NHS England have declared they'll offer STG18,500 ($A34,000) to British GPs who have relocated and Australian-trained doctors who want to live and work in the UK.

Details of the recruitment plans were outlined at the Royal College of GPs' annual conference in Glasgow on Thursday with a target of 2000 foreign doctors hoped to be in place by 2020/21.


The initiative mirrors the success of the London Ambulance Service recruiting over 500 paramedics from Australia and New Zealand in the last four years.

GP vacancy rates in the UK are the highest on record with more than a 1,000 doctors leaving the NHS in the last three years citing unmanageable workloads and increasing demands.

Two recruitment agencies have been tasked with finding suitable candidates and the British government has relaxed of a cap on workers from outside the European Economic Area.

This could lead to the application procedure for Australian doctors reduced from a year to three months.

"It's no secret the NHS needs to recruit more GPs, so it makes sense to head to Australia where doctors' skills, training and high levels of care closely match those of their British counterparts," Dominic Hardy, NHS England's director of primary care delivery told the London Evening Standard.

5. Older women are more likely to drink during pregnancy, study concludes.

pregnant woman belly
Image via Getty.

Older women with higher levels of education are most likely to put their babies at risk by drinking alcohol during pregnancy, a long-term study has revealed.

The 15-year year research project published on Friday also shows pregnant women with lower educational attainment are more inclined to drink alcohol at higher-risk levels.

Advocates have seized on the alarming findings to demand the Australian government introduce mandatory pregnancy warning labels on alcohol products.

Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education chief executive Michael Thorn said the existing voluntary system for alcohol labelling had been a dismal policy failure.

Mr Thorn said seven years on, more than half of alcohol products did not carry pregnancy warnings.


"It is astounding that in Australia alcohol companies are still not legally required to include pregnancy warning labels on their products," he said on Friday.

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can risk miscarriages, stillbirths, low birth weights and Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Mr Thorn said it was absurd everyday items including batteries, dish washing tablets and potting mixes all carried bold, visible warnings about the potential for harm but alcohol did not.

He is calling on Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie, who chairs the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation, to champion the change when the group next meets.

"Enough is enough - this upcoming meeting of food ministers must be a line in the sand," Mr Thorn said.

Researchers at La Trobe University have mapped trends in alcohol consumption during pregnancy from 2001 to 2016.

The report found alcohol consumption during pregnancy decreased during the 15-year period but there were some troubling trends.

"Our research concluded that health promotion campaigns should focus on older, more highly educated women who appear less likely to refrain entirely from drinking during pregnancy," report co-author Sarah Callinan said.

"And on those with lower education levels who appear to be more likely to drink at higher-risk levels during pregnancy."