Panic in South Korea and Japan as North Korean spy satellite crashes into sea after launch

North Korea has admitted that its attempt to send its first satellite into space has failed, with the object crashing into the sea.

The rocket launch prompted Japan to warn residents in Okinawa and air raid sirens to sound in South Korea’s capital Seoul, only for the all-clear to be quickly given.

North Korea had earlier announced that it planned to launch a satellite by June 11 to monitor US military activities, according to the BBC.

It now says it will attempt a second launch as soon as possible.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said North Korea appeared to have fired a ballistic missile and that the government was analysing the details.

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He added that there were currently no reports of damage following the launch, although Japan has said previously that it was ready to shoot down anything that threatened its territory.

The BBC reported chaos and confusion in Seoul, the South Korean capital as people awoke to the sound of an air raid siren and an emergency message telling them to prepare for an evacuation, only to be told 20 minutes later it had been sent in error.

South Korea’s military said the object might have broken up in mid-air or crashed after it vanished from radar, adding that analysis was being conducted, the Yonhap news agency said.

Ri Pyong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea’s ruling party’s central military commission, had announced the launch plan on Tuesday (May 30), saying it was in response to “reckless military acts” by the US and South Korea.

He accused the countries of “openly revealing their reckless ambition for aggression”.

Before today’s launch, the US state department said any North Korean launch that used ballistic missile technology would violate multiple UN Security Council resolutions.

South Korea’s foreign ministry also condemned the launch plan, calling it a “serious violation” of security council resolutions “banning all launches using ballistic missile technology”.

“If North Korea eventually goes ahead with the launch, it will have to bear the price and pain it deserves,” it said.

Reports say that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has identified the development of military satellites as a key component of his country’s defence.