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Seoul's 'mistaken' North Korea alert highlights safety dilemma

Morning confusion prompts criticism; mayor says 'excessive' action better than none

A TV broadcast in Seoul covers North Korea's launch of what it called a space satellite on May 31.   © Reuters

SEOUL -- Authorities in Seoul faced a barrage of criticism on Wednesday over a "mistakenly" issued evacuation alert in response to North Korea's attempted satellite launch, underscoring the challenges Pyongyang's neighbors face in ensuring public safety.

At 6:41 a.m., Seoul officials sent a warning message to residents' phones, having received an order to do so from the central government's disaster control center. Sirens also blared through speakers at public schools around the city, waking many people.

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