Video shows Chinese balloon shot down; Americans report sightings
Americans said on Saturday they saw the big Chinese balloon suspected of carrying out surveillance as it drifted over the southern United States. A few hours later, it was shot from the sky over the Atlantic Ocean.
Television footage showed the moment the balloon appeared to be touched and began its descent into the water.
Two officials, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive operation, said President Joe Biden gave the go-ahead to bring down the ball earlier on Saturday and officials would move to collect the debris.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it resumed operations after closing its airspace over the Carolina coast, including airports in Charleston and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Wilmington, South Carolina. North Carolina. The Coast Guard also worked to clean up the water.
Earlier in the day, the Carolina Americans used cellphones and professional cameras to document the ball’s trajectory on Saturday. The balloon was spotted over Montana earlier this week.
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Video shows downed Chinese balloon
Footage on television and captured by onlookers appears to show a plane approaching its altitude over the Atlantic and firing at the spy balloon. After a small explosion, its debris was seen slowly floating towards the ocean.
US military jets were seen flying in the vicinity and ships were deployed in the water to mount the recovery operation.
What was the Chinese balloon doing?
The balloon was a “High Altitude Surveillance Balloon,” Air Force Brig. Pentagon press secretary Gen. Pat Ryder said.
China has claimed it was a derailed weather research “airship”, but that was dismissed by US officials. This is not the first time China has tried to collect sensitive information, Ryder said.
“Examples of this type of balloon activity have already been seen over the past few years,” Ryder said. “Once the balloon was detected, the US government acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information.”
The Pentagon also acknowledged reports of a second balloon flying over Latin America.
Where did people see the ball?
The balloon was spotted floating east over the Carolinas on Saturday, heading for the Atlantic Ocean.
Evan Fisher, an atmospheric science student at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, photographed what he described as a “surprisingly large” balloon just before 9 a.m. Saturday. He used a professional camera with a zoom to capture the details of the ball.
“I’m used to weathering balloons, I’m a meteorologist, so I’m familiar with balloons 12 to 18 feet wide, but the fact that this thing is three school buses wide just blew my mind,” Fisher says USA TODAY.
Amy Ostrosky, who works in digital marketing and lives in Cornelius, about 20 miles north of Charlotte, said she and several neighbors ran outside to spot what they thought was the balloon on Saturday morning. It looked like a bright star in the sky, only bigger, she said.
Ostrosky said the whole ordeal made her feel uneasy: “What’s the point? What’s he doing? Why is he here?”
Contributor: Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY; The Associated Press