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Defiant North Korea launches rocket

(BBC) — North Korea has launched its rocket in defiance of international warnings, South Korea and Japan say.

The rocket went up at 09:49 local time 00:49 GMT from a west coast site. It is not yet clear whether the launch was a success.

North Korea says its rocket will put a satellite into space, but many countries believe the tests are a cover for weapons development.

A previous launch in April failed when the rocket broke up after take-off.

That rocket flew for only a few minutes before exploding and crashing into the sea west of the Korean peninsula.

This rocket was scheduled to pass between the Korean peninsula and China, with a second stage coming down off the Philippines before launching the satellite into orbit.

The Japanese government, which put its armed forces on alert ahead of the launch, said the rocket appeared to have passed over Okinawa prefecture.

It had threatened to shoot down any debris which infringed on Japanese territory.