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Portions of California border wall wilt and fall into Mexico after high winds

Sections of reinforced barrier toppled south of the border between El Centro and Mexicali.
A construction crew works on a fallen section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall that landed on trees on the Mexican side of the border in Mexicali, from Calexico, California, on Jan. 29, 2020. The newly installed panels fell over in high winds Wednesday.AFP - Getty Images

Portions of the U.S.-Mexico wall partially fell along the California border on Wednesday as the barriers crumpled under stiff inland winds, officials said.

The steel barriers that separate El Centro, east of San Diego, and the Baja California city of Mexicali fell toward the Mexican side.

"High winds had impacted a handful of panels under construction yesterday afternoon," U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Ralph DeSio said in a statement to NBC News on Thursday.

"No property damage or injuries were sustained during this uncommon event while the concrete was drying and construction remains ongoing."

The 30-foot panels buckled under gusts of 40 mph. Damaged panels had been replaced by Thursday, officials said.

"The wall construction continues in the affected area," U.S. Customs and Border Protection Special Operations Supervisor Miguel Garcia said in another statement. "Three of the seven panels that were impacted by the high winds yesterday have been redone."

President Donald Trump has long said barriers along the southern border are key to stemming the flow of illegal immigration and contraband. The president has also promised that Mexico would pay for new walls.

"The border wall system is imperative to securing the border and is what border patrol agents have asked for and need to maintain operational control of the southern border," DeSio said Thursday.

This week, however, border patrol agents showed that walls can only do much as they announced the discovery of the longest smuggling tunnel ever found on the Southwest border, stretching more than three-quarters of a mile from an industrial site in Tijuana, Mexico, to the San Diego area.