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Airline Crew Says They Saw North Korean Test Missile Re-Enter Atmosphere

Airline Crew Says They Saw North Korean Test Missile Re-Enter Atmosphere

The company told the BBC News Monday that a crew witnessed what was likely the reentry of the North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) into Earth's atmosphere last week.

A statement from Cathay said a flight crew had that day sighted "what is suspected to be the re-entry of the recent DPRK test missile".

After the missile reached its zenith some 2,780 miles (4,475 km) above Earth-over ten times higher than the International Space Station-it came down in a blaze, which a senior Cathay Pacific executive said was observed by the flight crew, according to the South China Morning Post.

At the moment, there are no plans to change the airline's flight routes following the incident.

North Korea launched the missile in the early morning hours of Tuesday, Nov. 28 as a flight by the Hong Kong-based airline crossed the Pacific from San Francisco to Hong Kong.

The AP reported the missile was in the air for almost an hour and reached an altitude of 2,780 miles before plummeting into the Sea of Japan about 600 miles from its launch point.

United States Defense Secretary James Mattis said shortly after the missile was launched that the missile demonstrated North Korea may have the ability to hit "everywhere in the world".

More news: Ali Abdullah Saleh killed by Houthis trying to flee Yemen's Sanaa

The sighting was reported to air traffic controllers in Japan, and the flight's "operation remained normal and was not affected", the airline said.

A plane takes off near the control tower at San Francisco International Airport on February 25, 2013 in San Francisco, Calif. "We remain alert and (will) review the situation as it evolves".

Pyongyang sent tensions soaring on the Korean Peninsula five days ago when it announced it had successfully test fired a new ICBM, which it says brings the whole of the continental United States within range. While the intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs, that North Korea has recently tested are not meant for use against aircraft, they could still pose a risk to planes.

A Cathay Pacific flight crew witnessed something they probably didn't expect to see on their journey last week: a North Korean missile.

"Coupled with the rogue regime's need to master missile guidance and targeting, the re-entry failure underscores the challenges facing the country's weapons program, according to the official".

It's not the first time this year a North Korean missile has had a close call with a passenger plane.


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