North Korean rocket misses airliner

SEOUL, South Korea — A China Southern Airlines plane carrying 220 passengers passed through the trajectory of a rocket launched seven minutes earlier by North Korea, a South Korean official said Wednesday.

China Southern flight CZ628, operating as a code-share with Japan Airlines Co. as flight JL5021, was headed to Shenyang, China, from Narita airport in Japan when North Korea fired the missile at 4:17 p.m. Tuesday, said South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok. The jet was over international water at an altitude of 32,800 feet at 4:24 p.m. when it crossed the trajectory of the missile, which reached a height of 12.4 miles, Kim said.

“The rocket could have hit the plane on its way down,” Kim said. “North Korea had not given any warning. It was an unexpected and immoral act that goes against international norms.” The ministry has notified China through “certain channels” of the closeness of the trajectory, he said.

Flight JL5021, operated by China Southern, departed at 2:16 pm from Narita Tuesday, according to JAL’s website.

North Korea fired a total of seven short-range missiles Tuesday into the sea, including four that South Korea’s Defense Ministry estimated flew more than 93 miles, far enough to reach its capital Seoul.

The rockets hit their targeted areas off the eastern coast “precisely,” the official Korean Central News Agency said Tuesday, citing a North Korean military spokesman it didn’t identify. North Korea has the right to launch rockets in self-defense and will not abandon its nuclear deterrent for the sake of dialogue, the spokesman said in the report.

“There are no signs a nuclear test is imminent in the North,” South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin told lawmakers at a hearing Wednesday. “North Korea has completed basic preparations for a long-range missile launch.”

All North Korean troops are on “special alert” in response to U.S.-South Korean drills that began Feb. 24, senior South Korea Defense Ministry official Kim Kwang-woo said at the same hearing. The North also continues construction at its long-range missile launch site, he said.

South Korea diverted its commercial airplanes to avoid collisions before the North launched long-range rockets in 2012. The short-range launches could not be predicted, the defense minister said.

“Our military is closely monitoring for additional launches,” Kim said. “It’s difficult to predict North Korea’s actions.”

North Korea fired its rockets from mobile launchers and four of them are believed to be capable of flying as far as 180 kilometers, he said.

More in Local News

Everett district relents on eminent domain moving expenses

Homeowners near Bothell still must be out by April to make way for a planned new high school.

Their grown children died, but state law won’t let them sue

Families are seeking a change in the state’s limiting wrongful-death law.

Shock from WSU suicide ripples through Snohomish County

Roughly 1 in 10 seniors, sophomores and 8th-graders said they had attempted to take their own lives.

Marysville hit-and-run leaves man with broken bones

The state patrol has appealed for help solving an increasing number of hit-and-runs in the state.

$1,000 reward for info on who killed an eagle near Snohomish

After being shot, the raptor was treated at the Sarvey Wildlife Center but died overnight.

Woman confronts man leaving house with stolen item

“He swung at her with a crowbar, missing her.”

Police seek suspect in Wells Fargo bank robbery

He was described as white, in his 30s, heavyset, with blonde hair and a maroon sweatshirt.

Possible bobcat sighting keeps Snohomish students inside

The creature was spotted on the campus of Valley View Middle School around noon.

Stabbing in Everett follows dispute between brothers-in-law

The victim, 54, was hospitalized. The suspect, 29, had not been apprehended Thursday.

Most Read