February 21, 2024

Aaron Lynett/The Canadian Press through AP, File)

BY CAROLYN THOMPSON

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (AP) — A automobile exploded at a checkpoint on the American aspect of a U.S.-Canada bridge in Niagara Falls Wednesday, leaving two individuals useless and prompting the closing of 4 border crossings within the space, authorities mentioned.

There was no quick data on the reason for the explosion, but it surely raised issues on each side of the border. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mentioned officers had been “taking this terribly severely,” and the White Home mentioned President Joe Biden was “intently following developments.”

The 2 deceased individuals had been within the automobile, a legislation enforcement official advised The Related Press. The official was not approved to debate particulars of the investigation publicly and spoke on situation of anonymity.

“That is clearly a really critical scenario in Niagara Falls,” Trudeau mentioned in Parliament earlier than excusing himself from Query Interval within the Home of Commons to be briefed additional.

The U.S. FBI’s discipline workplace in Buffalo was investigating the blast, together with different companies. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul was touring to Buffalo from the state capital, Albany.

The blast occurred on the U.S. aspect of the Rainbow Bridge, which connects the 2 nations throughout the Niagara River.

Photographs and video taken by bystanders and posted on social media confirmed thick smoke, flames on the pavement and a safety sales space that had been singed. Movies confirmed that the fireplace was in a U.S. Customs and Border Safety space simply east of the principle automobile checkpoint. The company had no quick remark.

Chatting with WGRZ-TV, witness Mike Guenther mentioned he noticed a automobile rushing towards the crossing from the U.S. aspect when it swerved to keep away from one other automobile, crashed right into a fence and exploded.

“Hastily, he went up within the air after which it was a ball of fireplace like 30 or 40 ft excessive,” Guenther advised the station. “I by no means noticed something prefer it.”

The Niagara Falls Bridge Fee known as the incident “a critical automobile crash.”

The bridge and three others between western New York and Ontario had been shortly closed as a precaution, and the Buffalo-Niagara Worldwide Airport started safety checks on all automobiles and advised passengers to count on extra screenings.

Trudeau mentioned “extra measures” had been being contemplated and activated at border crossings throughout Canada. And in Toronto, about 100 miles (about 160 kilometers) away, police mentioned they had been rising patrols as a precaution.

From inside Niagara Falls State Park, Melissa Raffalow mentioned she noticed “an enormous plume of black smoke” stand up over the border crossing, roughly 50 yards (45 meters) away from the favored vacationer vacation spot. Raffalow advised AP in a message that police arrived quickly after, urging guests to disperse as they started cordoning off the road.

Raghu Bhattarai mentioned by telephone that he was inside his restaurant, the Niagara Tandoori Hut, close to the bridge when he heard a sound he described as a “increase.” A couple of minutes later, he noticed black smoke rising.

The Niagara Falls Bridge Fee reported that every one 4 of its crossings — the others are Lewiston, Whirlpool and Peace Bridge — had been closed.

About 6,000 automobiles cross the Rainbow Bridge every day, in response to the U.S. Federal Freeway Administration’s Nationwide Bridge Stock. About 5% is truck visitors, in response to the federal information.

The bridge, constructed in 1941, is simply over 1,440 ft (439 meters) lengthy and has a principal span constructed of metal, in response to the info.

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Related Press author Michael Balsamo contributed from New York.