The Chinese Spy balloon was shot down in South Carolina by the US military at Surfside Beach, South Carolina, officials said on Sunday.

A US fighter aircraft assigned to US Northern Command successfully brought down the balloon at the direction of President Joe Biden said Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in a statement on Saturday. He added that the balloon was being used by the People’s Republic of China “in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States.”

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Biden gave authorization on Wednesday to take down the balloon as soon as it could be done “without undue risk to American lives under the balloon’s path,” Lloyd said.

“In accordance with the President’s direction, the Department of Defense developed options to take down the balloon safely over our territorial waters, while closely monitoring its path and intelligence collection activities,” he said in the statement.

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The high altitude is estimated to be the size of three school buses. It was floated over US territorial waters when it was taken down. A television clip shows the balloon bursting in a small explosion before falling into the water. Officials will attempt to recover the debris, reported NBC News.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a ground stop in parts of North Carolina and South Carolina and shut down additional airspace on Saturday afternoon.

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The balloon was initially spotted over Billings, Montana, on Thursday. The Pentagon considered shooting down the balloon earlier this week but decided against it after briefing Biden, said Defense officials.

The decision was made in consultation with senior leaders, including Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

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On Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry said that the balloon was a civilian weather airship intended for scientific research that was blown off course. It described the incident as a result of a “force majeure” for which it was not responsible. The claim was summarily turned down by US officials.