2nd Chinese balloon seen flying over Latin America, days after similar balloon seen in U.S.

A suspected Chinese spy balloon over Montana.
A suspected Chinese spy balloon over Montana. Chase Doak via Reuters

The Pentagon said Friday that a second suspected Chinese spy balloon had been observed over Latin America, just days after a similar balloon was first seen crossing the United States.

News outlets in Costa Rica first reported that a balloon was seen flying along the country's western coast. Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder later confirmed to Politico that the Defense Department was "seeing reports of a balloon transiting Latin America. We now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon."

No further details about the balloon have been provided.

The purpose of the balloon over Costa Rica remains unclear. Politico noted that it was "possible, though unconfirmed, that other balloons were launched elsewhere around the world but not spotted."

The revelation of the Latin American device comes after the Pentagon detected a Chinese balloon flying over Montana. The balloon was detected at an altitude of 60,000 feet – significantly higher than most commercial airliners fly.

After being spotted in Montana, the balloon made its way east and was seen Friday evening hovering over Kansas and Missouri. It is unclear what the intentions of the suspected spy ship is. However, The Associated Press noted that it had "loitered over sensitive areas of Montana where nuclear warheads are siloed, leading the military to take actions to prevent it from collecting intelligence."

Pentagon officials remain hesitant to shoot the balloon down, Ryder said, because the potential debris field could cause "civilian injuries or deaths or significant property damage," per NBC News.

China has continued to insist the balloon is not a spy gadget, and is simply a meteorological device that has gone off course. However, the backlash from the U.S. has been swift, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled a planned trip to China as a result of the balloon's appearance.

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