By Yoonjung Seo and Emiko Jozuka | CNN

North Korea fired at least one ballistic missile at an apparent trajectory over Japan on Tuesday morning local time, according to regional officials.

The joint South Korean Chiefs of Staff confirmed the take-off. The missile is “believed to have been fired” over the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan, marking a potential escalation of rocket launches in North Korea, according to a tweet released by the Japanese Prime Minister’s office.

The tweet urged people to take refuge in a building or underground.

“The missile is believed to have crossed the Pacific Ocean around 07:29 JST,” the prime minister’s office reported in another tweet.

The same statement urged civilians in Japan to “stay clear of anything suspicious that would be found and to contact the police or fire department immediately.”

According to CNN calculations, Tuesday’s launch marks the 23rd launch of missiles in North Korea this year, including ballistic and cruise missiles.

However, premieres in Japan are rare; The last time North Korea fired a ballistic missile over territorial Japan on September 15, 2017, when the missile flew over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

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