Second ‘Chinese surveillance balloon’ spotted over Latin America

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A massive high-altitude balloon was spotted drifting over the United States on Tuesday. Pentagon officials on Thursday identified the balloon as a “Chinese surveillance” device. On Friday, a second surveillance balloon was identified flying over Latin America. Something is loading.

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A second high-altitude Chinese surveillance balloon has been spotted in Latin America as one discovered earlier this week drifts across the central United States, Pentagon officials said Friday.

“We are now assessing that this is another Chinese surveillance balloon,” Pentagon press secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder told the . Ryder declined to give further details, such as where the second ball was spotted.

The first balloon was seen flying over Alaska and parts of Canada before arriving over the town of Billings, Montana near Malmstrom Air Force Base, home to 150 Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles III.

Ryder said in a statement emailed to Insider that the balloon is currently moving east across the country and has “a large payload under the surveillance component,” although there is “ no physical or military threat to people on the ground”.

China has maintained that the aircraft is a “civilian airship used for research purposes, mainly meteorological,” according to an official statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China.

US Pentagon officials said the balloons are surveillance devices.

“The thing is, we know this is a surveillance balloon, and I couldn’t be more specific than that,” Ryder said in a statement emailed to Insider. “And we know the balloon violated US airspace and international law, which is unacceptable.”

The Department of Defense declined to answer Insider’s questions about the balloons.

These are not the only balloons used as surveillance devices between China and the United States. At least one balloon has been discovered over the United States during the Trump administration, reported. In 1957, China claimed to have shot down what it identified as a “spy balloon”, although the US Navy called it a “deviated weather experiment”, according to the US Naval Institute.

Although some members of Congress, as well as Trump, have pushed to shoot the balloon down, officials say it’s not that simple, in part because fighter jets aren’t designed to target balloons.

When a weather balloon spun out of control 25 years ago, two Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 fighters fired more than 1,000 rounds at it and were unable to bring it down.

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