Philippines braces for North Korea rocket launch
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines on Tuesday said it will implement a no-fly zone and advised all sea-faring vessels, including fishermen, from going out to sea in the area where North Korea’s rocket is expected to splash down into the sea.
Airlines and private aircrafts will not be allowed to pass through the no-fly zone 190 nautical miles northeast of Sta. Ana, Cagayan province and 140 nautical miles east of Polilio Island, Quezon province, where the rocket is expected to land.
Ferdinand Tienzo, assistant chief, air traffic control of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said the no-fly zone will be implemented from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. from April 12 to 16.
All affected international flights will take other routes to avoid the rocket’s path, Tienzo said.
Benito Ramos, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, advised ships and fishermen from nearby areas such as Polilio Island and Baler to steer clear of the rocket’s path.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told reporters that the defense department is not planning any evacuation “but advised [nearby residents] to avoid the area or seek cover.”
“This is first time we will experience this. We are coordinating with US [because] they have the capability to monitor what kind of debris will fall and where,” Gazmin said.
Gazmin added that, historically “North Korea has not been successful in its previous operations.”
He said that the rocket could stray closer or farther to Luzon from its target path over the Pacific Ocean. “We need to be careful and prepare what needs to be done in order to protect ourselves from the debris,” Gazmin said.
North Korea had announced last March that it is planning a rocket launch sometime between April 12 to 16 to put a satellite into orbit. The rocket will consist of multiple booster stages that will jettison from the main rocket after each stage’s fuel is spent. The jettisoned stage will then splash down into the sea.
Gazmin said that President Benigno Aquino will try to convince fellow members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to pressure North Korea against continuing the launch and preserve peace and stability in the region.
Foreign secretaries of Asean member nations have echoed the same sentiments during a meeting ahead of the summit itself.
Gazmin however said that “based on historical facts, [North Korea] does not listen to the majority.”
The United States and other countries have expressed alarm and said that the rocket launch is actually a ballistic missile test.
South Korea and Japan have already declared that they will shoot down the rocket if it threatens to enter their territory. The Philippines however has no capability to shoot down the rocket.