MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The suspected Chinese spy balloon that was first spotted in Montana has been spotted across the Pee Dee and could move to the Myrtle Beach area later on Saturday.
The balloon was shot down Saturday afternoon.
“On Wednesday when I was briefed on the balloon, I ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down as soon as possible,” President Joe Biden said. “They decided that the best time was when it got over water. They successfully took it down. I want to complement our aviators who did it. We’ll have more in a bit.”
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The balloon was first spotted in Montana, then over Missouri. The balloon was spotted over Asheville, North Carolina on Saturday morning. This balloon is roughly 60,000 feet above the surface.
Shortly after 10 a.m., the balloon was spotted over the Charlotte area. By noon, the balloon was spotted in the Hartsville and Florence areas.
Surface winds will guide the balloon east-southeast across the Piedmont of North Carolina, Upstate of South Carolina, and then eventually into the Pee Dee and Grand Strand area Saturday afternoon.
China insists the balloon is just an errant civilian airship used mainly for meteorological research that went off course due to winds and has only limited “self-steering” capabilities.
The United States says it is a Chinese spy balloon without a doubt. Its presence prompted Secretary of State Antony Blinken to cancel a weekend trip to China that was aimed at dialing down tensions that were already high between the countries.
The Pentagon says the balloon, which is carrying sensors and surveillance equipment, is maneuverable and has shown it can change course. It has loitered over sensitive areas of Montana where nuclear warheads are siloed, leading the military to take actions to prevent it from collecting intelligence.
A Pentagon spokesman said it could remain aloft over the U.S. for “a few days,” extending uncertainty about where it will go or if the U.S. will try to safely take it down. And late Friday, the Defense Department acknowledged reports of a balloon flying over Latin America — assessed as “another Chinese surveillance balloon.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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