Vehicle explosion at Rainbow Bridge closes U.S.-Canada border crossings

a border crossing
Law enforcement personnel block off the entrance to the Rainbow Bridge border crossing on Wednesday in Niagara Falls, N.Y., after a vehicle exploded at a checkpoint. (AP Photo/Carolyn Thompson)

The Rainbow Bridge, which connects the United States and Canada at Niagara Falls, N.Y., has been closed after a vehicle exploded at a checkpoint on a bridge, authorities said Wednesday.

Two occupants in the vehicle that exploded are both dead, according to The Associated Press and other media reports citing law enforcement sources.

In a post on X (formerly known as Twitter), the FBI said it is investigating a “vehicle explosion at the Rainbow Bridge” and is coordinating with local, state and federal law enforcement partners. The FBI added that the situation “is very fluid,” but it did not include any further details.

It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion.

In a posting on its website, the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission said it has closed down several bridges linking the United States and Canada at Niagara Falls.

The closures include the Lewiston-Queenston, Whirlpool and Peace Bridges, and the Rainbow Bridge — where the vehicle explosion happened.

President Biden has been briefed on the explosion and he and his team are closely following developments, according to a White House press pool report.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said on X that she’s closely monitoring the situation and that state agencies are on the scene and ready to assist. The New York State Police is “actively working” with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and will continue to monitor all points of entry to New York, she said.

Hochul says she is traveling to Buffalo to meet with law enforcement and emergency responders and will update New Yorkers when more information becomes available.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in the House of Commons that “this is a very serious situation.”

“We are taking this extremely seriously,” Trudeau said briefly before he left to receive an update on the situation.

Canadian Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc said during a briefing that his government is receiving regular updates from U.S. authorities, Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the border service agencies.

Officers with the New York Police Department have been deployed to support efforts at the Rainbow Bridge, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said on X.

“Our number one priority is, and always will be, the safety of New Yorkers,” Adams said.

The Buffalo Niagara International Airport says that while the airport is fully operational, it is increasing security system-wide following the vehicle explosion — saying that cars coming into the Buffalo Airport will undergo security checks, as travelers can expect additional screenings.

“We advise travelers to give themselves time for these extra precautions in addition to holiday travel,” according to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, which runs the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

In addition, police in Toronto say they’re increasing patrols across the city out of an abundance of caution and there are no known threats for the city of Toronto.

A Justice Department spokeswoman told NPR that Attorney General Merrick Garland has been briefed on the vehicle explosion.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says it’s sending personnel to the site.

Doug Ford — the premier of Ontario — said in a post on X: “Our provincial law enforcement is actively engaged in assessing the situation. They are working with local law enforcement and are providing support as required.”

Follow coverage from member station WBFO.

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