US downs Chinese balloon over ocean, moves to recover debris

A large balloon drifts above the Kingstown, N.C. area, with an airplane and its contrail seen below it. (Brian Branch via AP)
A large balloon drifts above the Kingstown, N.C. area, with an airplane and its contrail seen below it. (Brian Branch via AP)

WASHINGTON — The United States downs a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the Carolina coast after it traversed sensitive military sites across North America and became the latest flashpoint in tensions between Washington and Beijing.

An operation is underway in US territorial waters in the Atlantic Ocean to recover debris from the balloon, which was flying at about 60,000 feet and was estimated to be about the size of three school buses.

The balloon is downed by Air Force fighter aircraft, according to two officials who were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

US President Joe Biden had told reporters earlier that “we’re going to take care of it,” when asked about the balloon.

The Federal Aviation Administration and Coast Guard worked to clear the airspace and water below the balloon as it reached the ocean.

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