Airline crew claim they saw North Korean missile mid-flight

Crew aboard a Cathay Pacific airlines flight over Japan claim to have seen North Korea's latest missile, as it plunged through the atmosphere. 

The airline released a statement on Monday (local time) saying the crew of flight CX893, from San Francisco to Hong Kong, spotted "what is suspected to be the re-entry" of the missile.

In a separate message to staff, Cathay general manager Mark Hoey said the crew described seeing the missile "blow up and fall apart", the South China Morning Post reports.

The projectile landed within 370km of Japan's coast on Tuesday night last week, prompting an emergency meeting of the Japanese government. 

North Korean officials have previously claimed this latest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) was launched from a newly developed vehicle and the warhead could withstand the pressure of re-entering the earth's atmosphere.

North Korea's most recent test has sharply escalated global tensions and the North Koreans now claim they can make a successful strike against the entire continental United States.

According to its statement, Cathay has no current plan to change air routes, describing the flight as being "far from the event location".

"We remain alert and review the situation as it evolves."