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Rainbow Bridge Explosion at U.S-Canada Border Stuns Trudeau

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A deadly vehicle explosion at the Rainbow Bridge border crossing has Canadian and American authorities on high alert. 

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called the incident a “very serious situation,” many are still awaiting updates about the incident, as well as what kind of action plan he plans on implementing, in order to ensure the safety and security of Canadians.

Reports say that at least two people were killed when a speeding car went airborne and burst into flames at the checkpoint. Tune in as we analyze footage of the dramatic explosion and bring you the latest updates on the investigation. 

What caused this horrifying crash? Was it an intentional attack or a tragic accident? How will this impact security along the US-Canada border, especially in the Niagara Falls area? 

A shocking incident occurred Wednesday morning at the Rainbow Bridge border crossing between the United States and Canada in Niagara Falls. Surveillance footage shows a vehicle speeding down the road approaching the checkpoint. The car then veered off the roadway, went airborne over a median, and burst into flames upon impact. 

Reports say that two occupants of the vehicle were killed in the dramatic crash and explosion around 11:30 am local time. 

The footage released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection depicts the vehicle traveling at an extremely high rate of speed before becoming completely airborne and erupting in a fireball near the inspection point. 

NBC News obtained the footage and dissected the high-speed collision

Officials are still investigating the circumstances surrounding the tragic incident that claimed two lives at the busy US-Canada border crossing near Rainbow Bridge.

Many eyewitnesses also took footage of the incident, specifically the aftermath of the explosion.

Other witnesses recount that there are people stranded on one side of the border, with their cars on the other, due to the crossing being closed off.

One Canadian eyewitness described the explosion as so intense that the ground trembled. When he looked outside, he saw a massive plume of black smoke billowing up.

Another Canadian witness, who asked to remain anonymous, likened the blast to a “mini earthquake,” saying that everyone rushed to the window after feeling the tremors. They were met with the sight of the fiery vehicle explosion outside.

Another witness described the speeding car’s flyby to CNN’s affiliate WKBW as being “almost like a movie,” initially making him think it was a plane rather than a vehicle. 

According to law enforcement sources cited by CNN, the incident involved a man driving a Bentley at high speed with his wife as a passenger. The speeding luxury car struck a curb and then a guardrail, causing it to go airborne into a secondary inspection area at the border crossing.

The high rate of speed combined with hitting obstacles appears to have sent the car flying uncontrollably into the inspection zone, as it completely incinerated, with nothing but the engine remaining.

While the nature of the tragic incident makes it hard to identify the people involved and provide further context, investigators believe the New York resident had planned to attend a KISS concert in Canada that ended up being canceled. Instead, the man and his wife went to a casino in the U.S. before the fatal crash occurred when they left to return home. 

A U.S. border patrol officer at Rainbow Bridge was also hurt in the incident, suffering minor injuries before being taken to the hospital. The officer has since been treated for their injuries and released from medical care.

In the most recent House of Commons meeting, both Pierre Poilievre and Justin Trudeau addressed the severity of the incident.

Public Safety Minister, Dominic LeBlanc, also commented on the tragic incident at Rainbow Bridge.

Local officials also spoke on the matter.

When addressing reporters during a briefing on Wednesday afternoon, New York Governor Kathy Hochul described the extensive aftermath of the dramatic explosion, stating: “When you look at the scale of the scene, at how far the pieces of this vehicle exploded and scattered and the fact that there has been some damage to other vehicles, thank God there was nobody else injured.”

She emphasized how much worse it could have been, saying, “It could have been much more cataclysmic.” The governor’s remarks highlight the severity of the blast, which scattered vehicle debris over a wide area and could have easily claimed more victims. 

At this stage, it remains uncertain what exactly led to the incident, though Governor Hochul stated there is “no evidence at this time” of any terrorist activity involved. Earlier reports from CTV News indicated Canadian officials had initially assumed terrorism could be a factor, prompting police to heighten their presence at potential terror targets as a precautionary measure, according to sources. 

However, around 9:40 pm, the FBI’s Buffalo office announced it had finished its investigation into the explosion, concluding no terrorism nexus was found. The incident will now be handled as a traffic investigation by Niagara Falls police. 

“A search of the scene revealed no explosive materials, and no terrorism nexus was identified,” the statement, shared on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, reads.

While the cause is still unclear, Hochul stressed that so far, there is no proof linking the dramatic crash to terrorism, despite initial suspicions by Canadian authorities, which led to increased security at key locations.

In response to the shocking explosion, officials initially closed all Niagara Falls border crossings, including the Rainbow Bridge where the incident occurred, as well as three other nearby bridges. This shows the serious nature of the situation, and the caution taken in the aftermath of the dramatic and deadly crash. 

However, the Ontario Provincial Police later announced shortly after 5:00 pm that three of the four bridges were being reopened, indicating a degree of returning to normalcy while still keeping the Rainbow Bridge closed during the ongoing investigation.

The crash also briefly grounded flights at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, reflecting a heightened alert status in the region. But Governor Hochul stated during a news briefing that the airport has resumed normal operations, noting “everything is normal.” This demonstrates that security officials were able to quickly assess and eliminate any broader threats to infrastructure like the airport.

One eyewitness, Mike Guenther, shared his account of seeing the speeding car with NBC’s Buffalo affiliate, stating: “It was flying. Over 100 miles per hour,” or 160 kilometers per hour. He added: “It hit the fence and flew up into the air, and we’ve just seen the fireball. It was covered with smoke everywhere. It was going towards Canada.” His vivid description provides insight into how fast the vehicle was traveling right before the devastating crash.

While the cause remains under investigation, Hochul pointed out that such an extraordinary high-speed collision was especially alarming given the context: “This is not an isolated late-night occurrence. This is the busiest travel day of the year.” Her remarks highlight the heightened concern due to the timing near Thanksgiving during peak travel volume.

Earlier on Wednesday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he had been briefed on the incident and that the Ontario Provincial Police were “actively engaged in assessing the situation.”

In a follow-up statement around 5:00 pm, the OPP reported there was no known threat to public safety in Ontario, stating, “We recognize that incidents like these can have an emotional impact. The OPP is committed to keeping our communities safe and secure.”

This deadly explosion on one of the busiest travel days of the year raises serious concerns about security along the U.S.-Canada border in Niagara Falls. As we await more details, many will be looking to Prime Minister Trudeau for leadership and a concrete plan to maintain safety despite this unsettling breach.

However, Trudeau has often taken a backseat on the world stage, overshadowed by the United States in joint appearances like the recent APEC summit. Will he be able to step up with decisive action here? Or will this incident further highlight Canada’s junior role in the partnership, unable to drive the agenda when security is threatened?

The coming days will be a crucial test of Trudeau’s leadership. With lives lost and the heavy Thanksgiving travel rush underway, Canadians will expect more than just sympathetic rhetoric. 

We’ll be watching closely to see if Trudeau can finally take charge amid a crisis, or if he will once again cede the spotlight to the U.S. despite this attack happening on Canadian soil. His response may define the trajectory of U.S.-Canada relations for years to come.

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