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Vehicle explosion at US-Canada border checkpoint investigated; NY gov. says no sign of terrorism

A member of the Border Patrol stands guard as Homeland Security, Border Patrol, and local authorities block traffic to the Rainbow Bridge, one of four major crossings into the U.S. from Canada that is closed after a car crashed and exploded at the bridge on November 22, 2023, in Niagara Falls, New York. According to reports, the two occupants died when their car crashed near a border checkpoint. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
A member of the Border Patrol stands guard as Homeland Security, Border Patrol, and local authorities block traffic to the Rainbow Bridge, one of four major crossings into the U.S. from Canada that is closed after a car crashed and exploded at the bridge on November 22, 2023, in Niagara Falls, New York. According to reports, the two occupants died when their car crashed near a border checkpoint. The cause of the crash is still under investigation. | John Normile/Getty Images

A vehicle explosion at Niagara Falls between the U.S.-Canadian border is no longer being investigated as an “attempted terrorist attack,” according to reports Wednesday.

The explosion was reported around 1 p.m. Eastern time at Rainbow Bridge, according to ABC News.

It wasn’t initially clear whether there were any confirmed injuries, but unidentified officials cited by ABC News told the outlet “there are believed to be fatalities from the incident.”

Two people who were in the car are dead and one U.S. Border Patrol officer was injured, according to Fox News. 

The speeding driver was traveling on a separate road when the vehicle went "airborne" and crashed into a checkpoint at the Rainbow Bridge, officials said.

The driver and passenger in the vehicle are both dead and there are no immediate signs this was a terrorist attack, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul told reporters late Wednesday. 

"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.”

The crash happened on the U.S. side, contrary to some early reports that the driver was traveling southbound from Canada.

Officials with the Niagara Falls mayor’s office initially believed the explosion involved a vehicle crossing from Canada into the U.S. According to initial reports, surveillance video from a security checkpoint showed the vehicle stopping at the checkpoint before authorities directed the driver to a secondary security checkpoint. The vehicle then reportedly accelerated and crashed into the secondary screening location, unidentified officials told ABC News.

It was also claimed that a suitcase or briefcase was also found at the scene. 

Responding to the reports of the crash earlier Wednesday amid concerns the incident was an attempted terrorist attack, the governor said the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force would be monitoring all points of entry to New York.

“I have been briefed on the situation that occurred at the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls,” Hochul said. “At my direction, the New York State Police is actively working with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force to monitor all points of entry to New York.”

Late afternoon Friday, the governor said it was no longer believed to have been an attempted terrorist attack. 

All border crossings between Canada and western New York state that were closed following the fiery crash have reopened. 

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