The US has shot down a giant Chinese balloon that it says has been spying on key military sites across America.
The Department of Defense confirmed its fighter jets brought down the balloon over US territorial waters.
Three airports were shut and airspace was closed off the coast of North and South Carolina as the military carried out the operation on Saturday.
Footage on US TV networks showed the balloon falling to the sea after a small explosion.
An F-22 jet fighter engaged the high-altitude balloon with one missile – an AIM-9X – and it went down about six nautical miles off the US coast at 14:39 EST (19:39 GMT), a defence official told reporters.
US President Joe Biden had been under pressure to shoot the balloon down since it first appeared in US airspace last week.
The discovery set off a diplomatic crisis, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling off an imminent trip to China over the “irresponsible act”.
The Chinese authorities have denied it is a spying aircraft, and instead said it was a weather ship blown astray. (BBC)