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2 dead after vehicle explodes at U.S.-Canada border in Niagara Falls, governor says no sign of terrorism


Police blockade roads after an incident at the Rainbow Bridge U.S. border crossing with Canada, in Niagara Falls, New York, U.S. November 22, 2023.

Lindsay DeDario | Reuters

The FBI is investigating a vehicle explosion at the Canadian border where an “airborne” car crashed into a checkpoint at the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls on Wednesday, officials said.

The two people in the vehicle are both dead and so far there are no immediate signs this was a terrorist attack, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul told reporters.

“At this time, there is no indication of a terrorist attack,” she said. “Let me repeat that: At this time, there is no indication of a terrorist-involved attack here at the Rainbow Bridge in Western New York.”

At least one of the two people in the car was from Western New York and the speeding and ensuing crash all happened on the U.S. side, contrary to some early reports that the vehicle had come from Canada.

Rickie Wilson, who works for Gray Line Tours, couldn’t believe his eyes when he spotted the “airborne” vehicle. Wilson said it appeared the car struck a cement median before it went flying.

“I first thought it was an airplane. Looked like slow motion,” Wilson told Rochester NBC affiliate WHEC. “And I said, ‘My God, it’s a car and it’s a vehicle and it’s flying through the air.’ “

The witness estimated the car was 10 to 15 feet in the air.

“I mean how did it get up there? I mean this thing was up in the air,” Wilson told reporters. “I know it sounds like I’m crazy, but the car was airborne and not three or four feet, I mean it was up there.”

Hochul said she’s seen video of the car that was going at an “extraordinarily high rate of speed” before it went flying in an “absolutely surreal” scene.

“When you see this video, your jaw will drop in disbelief at how this went so high, over an 8-foot-high fence,” she said.

A Customs and Border Protection officer suffered minor injuries that did not require hospitalization, a senior law enforcement official said.

Firefighters view the scene after an incident at the Rainbow Bridge U.S. border crossing with Canada, in Niagara Falls, New York, U.S. November 22, 2023 in a still image from video. REUTERS/Reuters TV

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The vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed when it hit the structure, caught fire and exploded. An initial search did not find a secondary explosive or device, the law enforcement officials said, noting this was preliminary information.

“And then all of a sudden black smoke, no explosion,” Wilson told WHEC. “We all heard, the people in the building heard it, metal on metal.”

Authorities are investigating whether the crash was intentional.

All western New York bridge crossings into the U.S. were shut down following the incident, the Erie County executive said shortly after the crash, but Hochul later said all bridges were back open.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said security has been increased and the “city is on heightened alert due to the upcoming holiday.”

“We have also reached out to, and are in ongoing communication with, partners from across different levels of government to assist with this effort. Our number one priority is, and always will be, the safety of New Yorkers,” the mayor said in a statement.

The White House is also closely monitoring the situation, an official said. The Canada Border Services Agency said it was “liaising with our U.S. counterparts on this matter.”

Firefighters view the scene after an incident at the Rainbow Bridge U.S. border crossing with Canada, in Niagara Falls, New York, U.S. November 22, 2023 in a still image from video. REUTERS/Reuters TV

REUTERS/Reuters TV

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority said it would be increasing security systemwide.

Travelers at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport should expect additional screenings and vehicles coming into the airport will undergo security checks, it said.

“The Buffalo and Niagara Falls Airports are fully operational. We advise travelers to give themselves time for these extra precautions in addition to holiday travel,” the agency said in a post on X.

Amtrak also announced on Wednesday that train service between the U.S. and Canada was temporarily suspended.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.





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