BEIJING, February 3. /TASS/. An unidentified flying object detected earlier in the skies over the United States is a Chinese weather balloon that lost control, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Friday.
"The airship is from China. It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes. Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course," the statement posted on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website said.
The spokesperson also expressed regret that "force majeure" has led to the meteorological balloon getting into the US airspace and expressed readiness of China to maintain contact with the American authorities to resolve the situation.
US Defense Department Press Secretary Patrick Ryder earlier said that US authorities had detected and were tracking a high-altitude reconnaissance balloon that was at the moment over the continental United States. According to Ryder, the balloon "is currently traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground.".