North Korea has defied international warnings and launched a long-range rocket carrying what it has said is a satellite.

The rocket took off at around 9am Pyongyang time from the North’s west coast, according to South Korea’s defence ministry.

In a state TV broadcast, a female North Korean announcer wearing a traditional dress said the “epochal” launch, personally ordered by leader Kim Jong-Un, had “successfully put our Earth observation satellite … into orbit”.

Japan’s NHK broadcaster reported debris from the rocket was believed to have fallen about 155 miles (250km) off the southwest coast of the Korean Peninsula into the East China Sea about 14 minutes after the launch.

South Korea said one of its navy ships near Jeju island had retrieved what it believed to a fairing – which shields the payload, or satellite, carried by a rocket – which would help provide clues about the launch.

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