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Schoolchildren leave the compound of their school during an evacuation drill in Abu town

TOKYO (AP) — A town in western Japan conducted an evacuation drill Sunday amid rising fear that a North Korean ballistic missile could hit Japanese soil.

More than 280 residents and schoolchildren from Abu, a small town with a population of just over 3,400 on Japan’s northwestern coast, rushed to designated school buildings to seek shelter after sirens from loudspeakers warned them of a possible missile flight and debris falling on them.

The drill follows three consecutive weeks of North Korean missile tests. Last week, a missile splashed into the sea inside Japan’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone off the country’s western coast.

It was the second such drill since March, when Tokyo instructed local governments to review their contingency plans and conduct evacuation exercises.

A similar, city-organized drill was conducted Sunday in the neighboring prefecture of Fukuoka and others are planned over the next few months.

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