(CNN) — The United States shot down China’s alleged spy balloon over the Atlantic Ocean, a US official said on Saturday.
The spy balloon was first spotted in the sky over Montana earlier this week and traveled across the center of the country following weather patterns before leaving the continental United States on Saturday.
On Saturday at noon, President Joe Biden said his government would take over the alleged spy balloon, speaking from Syracuse, New York, where he is visiting his family. Hours later, a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) order closed three airports and restricted airspace over North and South Carolina “in support of the Department of Defense.”
This Thursday the United States reported that the Department of Defense was monitoring the route of an alleged spy balloon from China. The episode has generated a new wave of tensions between Beijing and Washington, which caused the postponement of a trip by Secretary of State Antony Blinken to China scheduled for the next few days.
More specifically, Brigadier General Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, said Friday that the US government has been tracking the balloon — which is as big as three buses — for several days as it made its way over the north of the country. , adding that it was “traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a physical or military threat to people on the ground.”
As of Friday, senior military officials had advised US President Joe Biden not to shoot it down for fear the debris could pose a threat to the safety of people on the ground, the defense official said.