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Explosion at Canada-U.S. Rainbow Bridge crossing in New York kills two, border closed

Darpan News Desk The Canadian Press, 22 Nov, 2023 01:34 PM
  • Explosion at Canada-U.S. Rainbow Bridge crossing in New York kills two, border closed

UPDATE:

The latest on the deadly explosion at the Canada-U. S. border crossing in New York.

Four of the busiest border crossing points between Canada and the United States were abruptly closed Wednesday after a vehicle exploded at a U.S. checkpoint in Niagara Falls. The FBI is investigating the blast, which took place on the U.S. side of the Rainbow Bridge crossing in Upstate New York.

Here are the latest developments (all times are ET):

---

5:45 p.m.

There is almost nothing left of the vehicle that exploded today at the Rainbow Bridge border crossing in Niagara Falls. 

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul says all but the engine of the vehicle incinerated.

She says the pieces are scattered over a large scene.

Hochul says it will take some time for investigators to put together the entire story of what happened.

---

5:30 p.m.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul says there is no evidence at this time that terrorist activity was behind the deadly explosion at the border crossing at Niagara.

The governor says it's not clear whether the driver was intentionally heading for the Rainbow Bridge across the Niagara River when the vehicle hit a median and flew into the air.

United States Customs and Border Protection says three border crossings in the Niagara region have reopened to traffic.

The border crossing at the Rainbow Bridge, which spans the Niagara River, remains closed.

---

5:30 p.m.

A Toronto woman says she was in a building at the border crossing to deal with some customs paperwork when she heard the explosion.

Paola Tamang says it felt like an earthquake and she ran to the window to see what happened.

She was told her car was parked about 10 metres away from the explosion.

Tamang was among a group of Canadians who were stuck waiting for the border to reopen so they could retrieve their vehicles, which were stranded on the U.S. side of the bridge.

She says it doesn't feel like a terrorist attack.

---

4:30 p.m.

A spokeswoman for the RCMP says officers are working with domestic and international partners on the deadly explosion at the U.S. border crossing in Niagara Falls.

She provided no further details.

The Niagara Regional Police Service says border bridges in Niagara remain closed due to the blast.

It says it's monitoring developments, and there is no known threat on the Canadian side of the border.

---

3:50 p.m.

Authorities say two people are dead after a vehicle exploded at a checkpoint on the American side of a bridge in Niagara Falls.

The blast has prompted the closure of four border crossings in the area.

There was no immediate information on the cause of the explosion, but it has raised concerns on both sides of the border.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says officials are “taking this extraordinarily seriously,” and the White House said U.S. President Joe Biden is “closely following developments.”

A law enforcement official has told The Associated Press that the two people who died were in the vehicle.

---

3 p.m.

Toronto police say on social media that they will be increasing patrols of uniformed officers throughout the city.

They say it's out of an abundance of caution and there are no known threats in the city.

 

EARLIER STORY: 

The Associated Press reports that two people were found dead in a vehicle that exploded at a checkpoint on the American side of a Canada-U.S. bridge in Niagara Falls today.

A law enforcement official who spoke to AP was not authorized to discuss details of the investigation publicly and shared the information on condition of anonymity.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing a speeding car and then a ball of flames Wednesday when a vehicle suddenly crashed and exploded at a U.S. border checkpoint in Niagara Falls, triggering a lockdown along the Canada-U.S. border.

Four separate entry points between Canada and New York state were shut down as a precaution while law enforcement officials flooded the complex on the U.S. side of the Rainbow Bridge, which spans the Niagara River.

Videos posted to social media showed smoke and flames and the wreckage of at least one vehicle at the secondary checkpoint complex. 

The Associated Press quoted one eyewitness who told a local television station that the vehicle had been approaching from the U.S. side of the border when it suddenly began to accelerate at a high rate of speed. 

"All of a sudden, he went up in the air and then it was a ball of fire like 30 or 40 feet high," Mike Guenther told WGRZ-TV. 

"I never saw anything like it." 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the House of Commons that Canada was working closely with the U.S. and taking the matter extremely seriously before he excused himself to attend a briefing.

His national security adviser, the public safety minister, the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency are "fully engaged and providing the necessary support," he said.

"Additional measures are being contemplated and activated at all border crossings across the country. We are taking this extraordinarily seriously." 

Three other land crossings, including the Queenston Lewiston Bridge in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., The Peace Bridge in Buffalo, N.Y. and the trusted-traveller Whirlpool Rapids Bridge in Niagara Falls were all closed. 

Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc called it a "violent circumstance" and a source of concern for both countries, but warned against speculation in the absence of more details.

"Any time a piece of infrastructure as important to Canada and the United States, like a border crossing, sees this kind of violent circumstance, it's a source of concern for the Government of Canada and for the United States," said LeBlanc.

"We're taking this circumstance very seriously, but to speculate on the origin of this particular circumstance — the reasons why this may have happened — until we have more accurate information is simply not responsible."

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement that she had been fully briefed and was monitoring the situation closely, including travelling to Buffalo to meet with law enforcement. 

Hochul said state police were "actively working" with the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force to monitor all of the state's points of entry. 

Niagara regional police say they are also monitoring developments and that there is no known threat on the Canadian side of the border. 

CNN reported that two people in the vehicle died when it exploded in the secondary screening area after entering the customs complex at a high rate of speed. Earlier reports said it had been referred for inspection. 

The incident comes just one week after FBI director Christopher Wray warned a congressional committee about a heightened risk of extremism linked to the Israel-Hamas war.

"Our provincial law enforcement is actively engaged in assessing the situation," Ontario Premier Doug Ford said in a statement. 

"They are working with local law enforcement and are providing support as required."

 

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