Gov. Laura Kelly reacts to ‘spy balloon’ sightings, calls them ‘alarming’

13 NEWS viewer Sheli White captured this photo of an object in the sky northeast of Sabetha,...
13 NEWS viewer Sheli White captured this photo of an object in the sky northeast of Sabetha, Kan. just before 9:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 3, 2023.(Submitted)
Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 12:49 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH/AP) - As the Pentagon continues to track a balloon believed to be surveillance from China across the United States, sightings have been made in the Midwest.

The Pentagon said Friday morning the balloon had moved eastward and was over the central United States.

The National Weather Service in Kansas City shared photos of the balloon. The weather agency said the balloon was spotted over northwest Missouri and was visible from the NWS office in Pleasant Hill and the KC Metro.

“We have confirmed that it is not an NWS weather balloon,” said NWS Kansas City.

On Twitter, Republican Senator Roger Marshall said his staff was in contact with law enforcement after the balloon was reportedly spotted over northeast Kansas.

“I condemn any attempts the Chinese make to spy on Americans,” said Marshall. “President Biden must protect the sovereignty of the U.S. whether it’s our airspace or the southern border.

Later in the day on Friday, Gov. Laura Kelly called the reported sightings over Kansas alarming.

“My team is in communication with our federal delegation and has reached out to the White House to ensure we work together to protect the safety and security of Kansans,” said the governor.

The sighting first announced on Thursday led U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to abruptly cancel a high-stakes trip to Beijing aimed at easing U..S.-China tensions.

The Biden administration weighed a broader response to the discovery of the Chinese balloon over sensitive sites in the western United States. A senior defense official said the U.S. prepared fighter jets, including F-22s, to shoot it down if ordered. The Pentagon ultimately recommended against that, noting that even as the balloon was over a sparsely populated area of Montana, its size would create a debris field large enough to put people at risk.

The balloon is expected to be in U.S. airspace for several days.