A failed North Korea missile crashed in a populated area has heightened fears the rogue state could accidentally start a nuclear war.

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Kim Jong-un’s failed missile test on April 28 last year was barely acknowledged by the US after it crashed shortly after launch, however, The Diplomat has revealed the missile crash-landed in the North Korean city of Tokchon causing significant damage to buildings there.

The publication quoted a US government source with knowledge of the North’s weapons program as saying the missile’s first stage engines failed around a minute into flight, resulting in “catastrophic failure”.


According to the report the missile never rose higher than 70km before crashing into either industrial or agricultural buildings. US Pacific Command said the missile was launched from close to Pukchang Airfield, a site that had previously not been used for ballistic missile tests.

Due to the engine failure it was highly likely there was a large explosion when the missile crashed into the ground, with significant damage to buildings.

The Diplomat said it was impossible to ascertain whether there was any loss of life. The highly troubling report again highlights the dangers of North Korea’s missile ambitions and raises concerns that should a future launch fail at the wrong time, the trajectory of the missile could appear to resemble an attack on Japan.

The failed launch came at a time of increasing tension on the Korean peninsula and of heightened rhetoric between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump.

Earlier in the month North Korea had threatened the US with “nuclear justice” and “thermonuclear war”. Those threats came as North Korea held a massive parade in its capital Pyongyang on Saturday to mark the 105th anniversary of its founding father Kim Il Sung — and to showcase its military might. South Korea warned: “the show of force threatened the whole world.”