US shoots down Chinese ‘spy balloon’ off Carolina coast


The US has shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon that has been flying over its airspace.

Television footage showed a small explosion, followed by the balloon descending toward the water – off the Carolina coast.

The balloon was shot down by an Air Force fighter aircraft, after US military jets were seen flying in the vicinity.

Ships had also been deployed in the water to mount the recovery operation.

Officials were aiming to time the operation so they could recover as much of the debris as possible before it sinks into the ocean.

President Joe Biden had warned the US was “going to take care of” the craft after it was spotted again on Saturday – this time over North Carolina.

The US had previously hesitated to shoot the balloon because of the risks to people on the ground from falling debris.

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Ahead of the operation, flights were suspended at several airports.

Flights had been suspended at three airports including Myrtle Beach International Airport in South Carolina because of a “national security effort”, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said.

The discovery of the balloon has stirred tensions and a diplomatic row between China and the US.

The US claims the craft is a suspected spy balloon and says it has committed a “clear violation” of its sovereignty.

China insisted it is used for meteorological and other scientific research, and had been blown off course.

Read more:
What are ‘spy balloons’ and what is their role?
The puzzling theories behind China’s ‘spy balloon’

The object is believed to have flown over the Aleutian Islands, off the coast of Alaska, and through Canada before entering the US earlier this week.

It is operating at 60,000ft and is manoeuvrable, the Pentagon has said.