Second Chinese spy balloon spotted over Latin America

Second Chinese spy balloon spotted over Latin America
A similar high altitude balloon launched by NASA above New Zealand in 2016. This device did not carry any special equipment. Credit: NASA/Bill Rodman

A second Chinese spy balloon has been spotted over Latin America, the Pentagon announced on Friday, in a new twist in an affair that has caused significant tensions between the world's two largest economies. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently postponed his visit to China in response to the incident.

On Friday, US authorities announced the sighting of a first balloon above their airspace, which is suspected to carry surveillance equipment. Chinese authorities have expressed their “regrets” for the “involuntary” intrusion. The balloon was spotted at a height of 17 to 42 kilometres above sea level. For reference, most commercial aircraft fly at between 7 and 14 kilometres above sea level.

China's excuses were deemed as “unacceptable” to the US, who have demanded an official explanation and cancelled Blinken’s upcoming state visit on Sunday.

On Saturday, the presence of “another Chinese spy balloon” was reported by a Pentagon spokesperson, this time flying over Latin America. The official did not give a precise location.

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“We are aware of reports of a balloon flying over Latin America. We consider it to be another Chinese spy balloon,” Pentagon spokesperson Pat Ryder said in a statement.

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