Search teams have recovered debris from a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that was shot down Feb. 4 off the coast of South Carolina after spending nearly a week floating over military sites, officials with U.S. Northern Command said Friday.
The recovery effort wrapped up Thursday after Navy crews successfully located the remains of the balloon’s payload and pulled it to the surface, officials said.
“Final pieces of debris are being transferred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation laboratory in Virginia for counterintelligence exploitation,” Northern Command officials said in a statement.
A naval and air security zone around the recovery site has been lifted. Navy and Coast Guard ships have left the area, Northern Command said.
The U.S. and Canada have shot down three unidentified objects flying over North America in recent days. Those incidents occurred following the Feb. 4 shoot-down of the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon.
After being silent on the balloon issue for several days, President Biden on Thursday addressed the concerns of the U.S. public. He said there are no indications the balloons that were shot down over northern Alaska, Lake Huron and Canada’s Yukon Territory were intended to gather surveillance.
“The intelligence community’s current assessment is that these three objects were most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation or research institutions, studying weather or conducting other scientific research,” President Biden said at the White House.