A second Chinese “surveillance balloon” was spotted flying over Latin America after another one traveling across the continental U.S. was detected earlier in the day, officials confirmed Friday evening.
“We are seeing reports of a balloon transiting Latin America. We now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon,” Brig. Gen Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said. “We have no further information to provide at this time.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed in a statement earlier on Friday that the high-altitude balloon that was first seen over Montana on Wednesday belongs to China, but claimed it is a weather balloon that was blown off course by wind.
U.S. officials countered the comment, instead speculating that it is a surveillance balloon. They have not shot it down over fears that doing so could risk public safety.
The mystery has sparked imaginations and instigated calls for military action by many Republicans.
“China is a responsible country and has always strictly abided by international law. We do not accept any groundless speculation and hype,” said Chinese diplomat Wang Yi. “In the face of unexpected situations, what both parties need to do is to maintain concentration, communicate in a timely manner, avoid misjudgments, and manage and control differences.”
A video shared on Twitter by a woman in Montana shows what appears to be a smoke trail from something falling from the sky, but Yellowstone County Sheriff Mike Linder, City of Billings, and Montana Governor Greg Gianforte have confirmed that there were no aerial explosions over the state.
Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office, Musselshell County Sheriff’s Office, Laurel Police Department, NORAD, and Air Traffic Control at the Billings airport have all reported they have no information on any incident that would explain the appearance.
The Chinese balloon has moved past the area and was spotted over
Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a scheduled trip to China after the balloon was detected. A State Department official said the conditions are “not right” for Blinken to make the trip at this time and noted that the balloon is a violation of international law and U.S. sovereignty.
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