Four US-Canada crossings shut after blast at Rainbow bridge checkpoint

Authorities say two people inside the vehicle have died, explosion took place on US side of bridge connecting countries.

Vehicle blast at US Canada border
Police officers view the scene after a vehicle explosion at the Rainbow Bridge US border crossing with Canada, in Niagara Falls, New York, the United States, November 22, 2023 [Reuters]

Four border crossings have been closed between the United States and Canada after a vehicle exploded at a checkpoint on the US side of a bridge connecting the two countries at Niagara Falls, in New York state, authorities said.

Two people inside the vehicle were killed in the explosion that took place on the US side of the Rainbow Bridge that goes across the Niagara River, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press news agency.

Three other bridges between western New York and Ontario were quickly closed as a precaution, and the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport began security checks on all cars and told passengers to expect additional screenings, according to AP.

The Buffalo, New York, field office of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation said it was coordinating with all law enforcement agencies and described the situation as “fluid”, in a post on X.

No further information was immediately available on the cause of the explosion.

Photos and video taken by bystanders and posted on social media showed thick smoke and a security booth that had been singed by flames. Videos showed the fire was in a US Customs and Border Protection area just east of the main vehicle checkpoint.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was briefed and the White House said that it was closely monitoring the situation.

“This is obviously a very serious situation in Niagara Falls,” Trudeau said in Parliament. “We are taking this extraordinary seriously.”

Ivan Vitalii, a Ukrainian visiting Niagara Falls, told The Niagara Gazette newspaper that he and a friend were near the bridge when they “heard something smash”.

“We saw fire and big, black smoke,” he was quoted as saying.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies