Colombian military spots balloon-like object in its airspace
(Reuters) – A day before a U.S. military jet shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon, Colombia’s military confirmed a sighting over its territory of an airborne object similar to a balloon.
Colombia’s air force said in a brief statement on Saturday that a possible balloon had been detected in its air defense system on Friday morning.
U.S. military officials on Friday said a Chinese balloon was spotted somewhere over Latin America but did not specify its location.
The Colombian statement did not mention China or any other country as the balloon’s origin.
According to the Colombian statement, an “object” was detected over its territory at an altitude of 55,000 feet that had entered the South American country’s airspace to the north moving at an average speed of 25 knots, or roughly 29 miles per hour.
The statement added that the object exhibited “characteristics similar to those of a balloon,” and that the air force monitored it until it left Colombian airspace.
“It was determined that it did not represent a threat to national security,” the statement added.
No other official confirmation of unidentified balloons flying over other Latin American countries has been issued as of Sunday.
In recent days, however, balloon sightings have been made in Venezuela and Costa Rica by multiple social media users.
Costa Rican officials received reports of a balloon on Thursday and planes were notified, according to the head of the civil aviation agency.
“It was the same thing everyone else saw, a white ball,” said Fernando Naranjo, Costa Rica’s civil aviation director, adding that no further action was taken.
The saga of the Chinese balloon, downed off of the U.S. Atlantic coast on Saturday, captivated public attention for days, and was widely seen as worsening U.S.-China relations.
Chinese ally Venezuela in a statement on Sunday condemned the U.S. decision to shoot down the balloon.
(Reporting by Diego Ore and David Alire Garcia; Additional reporting by Alvaro Murillo in San Jose; Editing by Mark Porter and Grant McCool)