The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Monday ordered a full ground stop at all airports on the west coast, as North Korea fired what appeared to be a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan.
The shutdown lasted about seven minutes, according to San Diego media reports, citing radio traffic and officials at the San Diego International Airport.
Update (1/5, 23:15): This story has been updated with comments from the San Diego International Airport.
Airport spokeswoman Sabrina LoPiccolo told Newsweek the airport was loaded with air traffic from a national stopover around 2:30 p.m. PT. No reason was given for the shutdown, which lasted around five to seven minutes, she said.
“We really don’t have more details,” she said.
The FAA did not release further details of the ground shutdown and did not respond to a request for comment from News week Monday evening.
An FAA ground stop is an order that orders flights scheduled to land at affected airports to remain at their point of departure. Ground stops can be airport or region specific and can be related to weather conditions, equipment failures or extreme events. In particular, the FAA issued an order following the September 11 attacks.
A recording of radio traffic at Hillsboro Airport, outside of Portland, Ore., From Monday, captures ground control informing pilots of a domestic ground stop and diverting them.
The South Korean and Japanese armies said North Korea launched the missile early Tuesday morning, making it the second launch by the reclusive country in less than a week.
It is not clear how far the missile has traveled, and details of the launch have not been disclosed. The South Korean and American military said they were investigating the incident. Guam’s Homeland Security and Civil Defense offices were monitoring reports of the launch, but there was no threat to Guam, a U.S. territory that serves a major military hub in the Pacific.
North Korea said it successfully launched a hypersonic missile last week.
Hypersonic weapons fly at speeds greater than Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound. Their speed makes them difficult for missile defense systems to detect and stop.
But South Korea said the projectile was a ballistic missile and cast doubt on North Korea’s acquisition of hypersonic weapon technology.
The first tests on Jan. 5 came after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un told a key political rally that he would bolster the country’s military might. Kim had already started a diplomatic effort with former US President Donald Trump to ease sanctions against the country in exchange for giving up some of its nuclear capabilities.
The Biden administration has said it is ready to resume talks with North Korea without preconditions. But so far, North Korea has rejected the offers, saying the United States must withdraw sanctions and joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea.
It’s a breaking story that Newsweek is following.