‘No fly zone’ lifted temporarily over northern PH
MANILA, Philippines — The government has lifted the ban on flying, sailing and fishing over the northern Philippines, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director Benito Ramos said.
This means that planes, ships, and fishing vessels can resume their normal activities after the ban was imposed earlier Thursday in anticipation of the rocket that North Korea was expected to launch between this day and April 16, Ramos said in a television interview.
Ramos said that based on information he received from the Philippine military intelligence service, North Korea was no longer expected to launch its rocket for the rest of the day.
“We will assume that North Korea will honor the timeframe they gave us. Fishermen can resume their activities until 5 a.m. tomorrow [Friday]. We will be on alert again starting 6 a.m. tomorrow,” Ramos said.
The ban took effect at 5 a.m. up until 1p.m. to prevent disaster that could be caused by falling debris from the rocket, especially in the northern part of Luzon. But in the same interview, Ramos said the “no fly zone” and other similar directives would be reimposed Friday from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The NDRRMC said that it has begun sweeping operations in the 590 square kilometer area about 190 nautical miles (352 kilometers) northeast of Sta. Ana, Cagayan, and 150 nautical miles (278 km) east of Polilio island, Quezon where parts of the rocket may fall.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) notified sea vessels and airplanes to avoid the area, an NDRRMC bulletin on Thursday said.
Seafaring vessels have been advised “to undertake necessary precautionary measures to avoid transiting the vicinity of the designated second stage falling area,” it said.
Airplanes have also been advised “to undertake necessary precautionary measures to avoid transiting the vicinity of the designated second stage falling area,” it said.
Ferdinand Tienzo, assistant chief of air traffic control at CAAP, had previously stated that about 20 international daily flights from Japan and South Korea would have to take alternate routes.
The NDRRMC bulletin said that all concerned Local Government Units (LGUs) have also been advised to enforce the no-fishing policy from 6 a.m. to 12 noon.
NDRRMC Executive Director Benito Ramos said in a press conference Wednesday that there was a possibility of extending the no-fly, no-sail, and no-fishing zone into the afternoon because the second stage booster or the body of the rocket can take from three to four hours to separate from the main capsule before splashing into the sea.
Ramos said that airlines and sea vessels were aware of the possibility and were ready to comply.
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