North Korea accidentally hit one of its own cities with a ballistic missile last year

  • In April last year, a North Korean ballistic missile crashed and hit the urban city of Tokchon, roughly two hours from Pyongyang, The Diplomat reported
  • The impact likely damaged a complex of buildings in Tokchon and may have resulted in a few casualties
  • It was not previously known that the missile crashed in a populated area

One of North Korea's test ballistic missiles last year crashed in a city not far from Pyongyang, according to new findings by online news magazine The Diplomat.

In April, Pyongyang launched a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile that failed shortly after launch and ended up hitting the city of Tokchon, roughly two hours from the capital, The Diplomat reported on Wednesday.

The missile's failure was widely reported at the time but it was not previously known that the Hwasong-12 crashed in a populated area.

From a location near North Korea's Pukchang Airfield, the missile flew approximately 39 kilometers (24 miles) to the northeast where it struck a complex of industrial or agricultural facilities in Tokchon, The Diplomat said, citing satellite imagery. That complex, located near residential and commercial buildings, likely experienced a large explosion but The Diplomat said it was impossible to determine whether there were casualties.

The prospect of nuclear war breaking out on the Korean Peninsula dominated global headlines for the last year, but many analysts believe the risk of a nuclear accident could be an even greater threat amid Pyongyang's lax safety regulations.

Read The Diplomat's story for more details about the crash.

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