North Korea ICBM may have failed in flight, officials say; residents in Japan told to shelter

TOKYO: North Korea fired multiple ballistic missiles on Thursday, including a possible failed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that triggered an alert for residents in parts of central and northern Japan to seek shelter.

Despite an initial government warning that a missile had overflown Japan, Tokyo later said that was incorrect.

Officials in South Korea and Japan said the missile may have been an ICBM, which are North Korea’s longest-range weapons, and are designed to carry a nuclear warhead to the other side of the planet.

South Korean officials believe the ICBM failed in flight, Yonhap news agency reported, without elaborating. A spokesman for South Korea’s ministry of defence declined to confirm the possible failure.

Japanese Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada said the government had lost track of the missile over the Sea of Japan, prompting it to correct its announcement that it had flown over Japan.

Retired Vice Admiral and former Japan Maritime Self Defense Force fleet commander Yoji Koda said that the loss of radar tracking on the projectile pointed to a failed launch.

“It means at some point in the flight path there was some problem for the missile and it actually came apart,” he said.

Although the warhead came down in the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan, debris, which would have been travelling at high speed, may still have passed over Japan, Koda added.

North Korea has had several failed ICBM tests this year, according to South Korean and U.S. officials.

North Korea also launched at least two short-range missiles.

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