April 13, 2012 08:37
North Korea launched a three-stage rocket at 7:39 a.m Friday, South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said.
North Korea claims the rocket is a mere propellant for placing a satellite into orbit, but other countries including South Korea, Japan and the U.S. urged it to call off the launch, which they believe is a cover for a long-range missile test.
The South Korean government evacuated residents of Baeknyeong island right after the launch.
But a military spokesman said the rocket seems to have failed to reach its planned orbit and likely fell into international waters. Reports say that the first and second-stage boosters failed to separate.
North Korea was silent on Thursday, the first possible day for the launch. Experts earlier predicted Saturday was the most likely day for the launch to take place.
North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly meets on Friday, and a massive military parade celebrating the centenary of nation founder Kim Il-sung is scheduled for Sunday.
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