Last Updated: November 23, 2023, 06:24 IST
A speeding car crashed in flames at a US-Canada checkpoint on Wednesday, killing two people and causing border closures after a massive security alert on the eve of a major holiday.
The blast happened on the bridge linking New York state and Ontario at Niagara Falls. Multiple witnesses reported hearing a loud explosion and seeing a large cloud of smoke near the inspection station. Dramatic videos showed thick plumes of black smoke rising from a conflagration at the crossing.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul confirmed the two fatalities in the blast at the checkpoint northwest of New York City and said nothing pointed to a “terrorist” attack. “There is no evidence at this time that this was terrorist activity,” Hochul told a briefing. “(It was) a horrific incident, a crash, an explosion… but at this time no known terrorist connection.”
Just came from the scene of this horrible incident at the Rainbow Bridge. No evidence of terrorism indicated at this time.Grateful for our first responders keeping drivers and residents safe on this busy travel day. Will continue to update on any developments. https://t.co/nNGFPHm0bm
— Governor Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) November 22, 2023
Crash Near Niagara Falls
The explosion happened at the major Rainbow Bridge crossing near Niagara Falls with nothing left of the vehicle which Hochul said was incinerated except for the engine. Authorities on both sides of the border activated emergency responses and images showed access roads to the crossing swarming with emergency service workers and vehicles.
In the video posted by US Customs and Border Protection, a car traveling at high speed before it crashed into a checkpoint barrier and exploded into flames. The White House said President Joe Biden had been briefed and was closely following developments. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told parliament “this is obviously a very serious situation.”
‘Went flying up into the air’
“We’ve seen this car coming down towards the border and he was flying — over 100 miles an hour,” Mike Guenther, a Canadian visiting the United States, told CBS News. The car then swerved and “hit the fence, went flying up into the air,” he said. “He went up into the air and we just seen the fireball and that’s all we could see. It was just covered in smoke everywhere.”
The incident came on the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday, one of the busiest days for travel when millions of Americans take to the roads and skies. Rainbow Bridge — among the busiest crossings between Canada and the United States — has 16 vehicle lanes and is normally open around the clock, according to US Customs and Border Protection.
Hochul said that debris was spread across as many as 14 of the lanes following the incident. Three other nearby border crossings had been closed in the aftermath of the incident, but had since reopened, US Customs and Border Protection said. On the US side, Niagara Falls State Park, which attracts millions of visitors every year, was closed until further notice according to the Parks Service.
(With agency inputs)
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