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N-Korea's rocket crashes into sea

North Korea's much-anticipated rocket launch has ended in failure, splintering into pieces over the Yellow Sea soon after lift-off.

The reclusive communist state admitted in an announcement on state TV that a satellite launched hours earlier from the west coast failed to enter into orbit. The US and South Korea also declared the launch a failure.

The Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite was fired from the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Tongchang-ri, along the west coast, at 7.38am on Friday (11.38pm Thursday BST) but failed to reach orbit, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

"Scientists, technicians and experts are now looking into the cause of the failure," KCNA said.

US and South Korean officials said hours earlier that the rocket splintered into pieces about a minute after lift-off over the Yellow Sea, calling it a provocative failed test of missile technology.

In response to the launch, Washington announced it was suspending plans to contribute food aid to the North in exchange for a rollback of its nuclear programmes.

The US North American Aerospace Defence Command said it detected and tracked the launch of the rocket - which it called a missile - over the Yellow Sea; the first stage fell into the sea 100 miles west of Seoul, South Korea, while stages two and three failed.

The foreign ministers of the G8 nations meeting in Washington condemned the launch, and the UN Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting for later on Friday to discuss a response.

Despite the setback, Kim Jong Un, who has been given several important titles this week meant to strengthen his rule, was named on Friday as first chairman of the powerful National Defence Commission, while the late Kim Jong Il became "chairman for eternity". The announcement came during a meeting of the Supreme People's Assembly in Pyongyang, state media said.

At a massive gathering in Pyongyang, Kim Jong Un and other senior officials watched the unveiling of an enormous new statue of Kim Jong Il, which stood beside an equally large statue of Kim Il Sung.


From Belfast Telegraph