Philippines on alert ahead of North Korea rocket launch

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@MSantosINQ

04:34 PM April 11th, 2012

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By: Matikas Santos, April 11th, 2012 04:34 PM

A satellite launch pad in Tongchang-ri, Cholsan County, North Pyongan Province, North Korea, is shown in this satellite image taken and provided by GeoEye taken on March 20. The Tongchang-ri site is about 56 kilometers from the Chinese border city of Dandong, across the Yalu River from North Korea. AP

MANILA, Philippines—”Sweeping operations” are already being conducted in the 590-square-kilometer no-sail and no-fishing zone in the Pacific Ocean east of Luzon ahead of North Korea’s rocket launch, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said.

“Sweeping operations are being conducted by two Naval Forces, the Naval Forces North Luzon and Naval Forces South Luzon,” NDRRMC Executive Director Benito Ramos said in a press conference Wednesday.

“This is to ensure that all fishermen, boats and other vessels in the area will be moved out,” Ramos said.

Vessels of the Coast Guard and the Navy are not exempted and will steer clear of the area where the second stage booster of North Korea’s rocket is expected to fall.

“Not only fishermen and sea vessels, but even our responders are exposed to the danger [of the falling debris],” Ramos said.

The operations are being conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) Maritime Group, the Philippine Navy (PN) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Ramos said.

They started the operations Tuesday and up to the whole day Wednesday, Ramos said.

Up to nine vessels from the combined North Luzon and South Luzon Naval Forces are already in the area, Ramos said. A number of helicopters were also assisting the sea vessels, he added.

Benito Ramos said that they are already on a red alert in preparation for North Korea’s planned rocket launch between April 12 to 16.

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