Suspected Chinese spy balloon shot down off Carolina coast
The suspected Chinese spy balloon that has been drifting across the United States since Thursday has been shot down.
The balloon was shot down by U.S. fighter jets just after 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, CBS News has confirmed.
CBS News has also confirmed that two naval ships, including the USS Carter Hall, which is equipped with a heavy crane for recovery, are in vicinity of where the balloon fell.
Officials had initially advised against shooting down the balloon because falling debris could cause risk to people on the ground, sources told CBS News. However, on Saturday morning, President Biden told reporters that the U.S. was “gonna take care of” the balloon.
The Federal Aviation Administration closed the airspace and issued a ground stop at three airports in North and South Carolina on Saturday afternoon.
Chinese officials have denied that the balloon is meant for surveillance, saying in a statement on Friday that it is a civilian device used for scientific research that was blown off-course by unexpected winds.
Sen. Chuck Schumer praised the operation on Twitter on Saturday afternoon, saying that the United States could now “collect the equipment and analyze the technology” used by the Chinese government.
Defense officials previously told CBS News that the surveillance equipment attached to the balloon was the size of two to three school buses.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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