Wednesday, April 04, 2012

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.

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Notice To Mariners No. 042-2012  

Notice is hereby given to all mariners and other parties concerned that:

1.Reference: Letter from Gilberto G.B. Asuque, Assistant Secretary for Ocean Concerns, Office of the Undersecretary for Special and Ocean Concerns dated 26 March 2012

2.The Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will launch the “earth observation satellite” Kwangmyongsong-3 on 12 to 16 April 2012 and the coordinates of “falling area” are as follows:

Point A Latitude  15 degs      08 mins      19 secs  North   Longitude  124 degs      46 mins      15 secs  East 
Point B Latitude  15 degs      09 mins      35 secs  North   Longitude  123 degs      45 mins      27 secs  East
Point C Latitude  19 degs      23 mins      08 secs  North   Longitude  124 degs      45 mins      13 secs  East 
Point D Latitude  19 degs      24 mins     32 secs  North    Longitude  123 degs      54 mins      26 secs  East

3.In this connection, all ships/watercrafts transiting the vicinity of the above mentioned area are advised to take necessary precautionary measures.

4.The cooperation of all concerned in effecting widest dissemination of this information is requested.

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Philippine Coast Guard | April 2, 2012 | Notice Link