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No sign of terrorism in blast that killed 2 at U.S.-Canada border in Niagara Falls, governor says

“This vehicle basically incinerated. Nothing is left but the engine,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said.
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A deadly explosion near the New York-Canadian border after a car went airborne has been referred to Niagara Falls police as a traffic investigation after no explosives or connection to terrorism were found, the FBI said Wednesday night.

Two people in the car were killed in the fiery incident on the Rainbow Bridge, which leads into and out of Canada at Niagara Falls, that occurred minutes before 11:30 a.m., officials said.

It happened on one of the busiest travel days in the U.S. as people across the country hit the road for Thanksgiving, and as there was a heightened awareness due to the holiday.

The White House closely monitored developments, an official said, and the Department of Homeland Security said it was in touch with Canadian counterparts.

“A search of the scene revealed no explosive materials, and no terrorism nexus was identified,” the FBI in Buffalo said in a statement. “The matter has been turned over to the Niagara Falls Police Department as a traffic investigation.”

One of the people killed was from western New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul said at a news conference Wednesday evening.

In a statement on Thursday morning, the Niagara Falls Police Department said the identity of those involved is pending notification of relatives.

The department also thanked local business partners, including the Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino, for their assistance in the investigation. According to a statement from the casino, the car stopped there for “a matter of minutes shortly before the crash occurred.”

The vehicle, which officials have said was traveling at a high rate of speed, was on the U.S. side of the border when it crashed, caught fire and exploded, contrary to some early reports that it had come from Canada.

Hochul said she has seen video of the car, which was going at an “extraordinarily high rate of speed” before it went flying in an “absolutely surreal” scene. She said the car crashed into a median and struck a border crossing booth.

“When you see this video, your jaw will drop in disbelief at how this went so high, over an 8-foot-high fence,” she said.

She stressed at the Wednesday evening news conference that there were no indications of terrorism.

Rickie Wilson, who works for Gray Line Tours, couldn't believe his eyes when he spotted the "airborne" vehicle. He said it appeared the car struck a cement median before it went flying.

"I first thought it was an airplane. Looked like slow motion," Wilson told NBC affiliate WHEC of Rochester. "And I said, 'My God, it's a car, and it's a vehicle, and it's flying through the air.'"

He estimated the car was 10 to 15 feet in the air.

"I mean, how did it get up there? I mean, this thing was up in the air," Wilson told reporters. "I know it sounds like I'm crazy, but the car was airborne, and not 3 or 4 feet — I mean, it was up there."

A Customs and Border Protection employee suffered minor injuries and was treated at and released from a hospital, a law enforcement official said. Hochul said that the employee was working in the booth and that “the booth literally protected that individual.”

“This vehicle basically incinerated,” Hochul said. “Nothing is left but the engine. The pieces are scattered over 13, 14 booths.”

Hochul said the incident was “a horrific accident that led to a high-level anxiety all the way from western New York to Albany to Washington.”

All western New York bridge crossings into the U.S. were shut down, the Erie County executive said shortly after the crash. Hochul later said all bridges had been reopened.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said that security has been increased and that the "city is on heightened alert due to the upcoming holiday."

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority said it would increase security systemwide.

Travelers at Buffalo Niagara International Airport were told to expect additional screenings, and vehicles going into the airport would undergo security checks, it said.

"The Buffalo and Niagara Falls Airports are fully operational. We advise travelers to give themselves time for these extra precautions in addition to holiday travel," the agency said on X.

Amtrak said Wednesday that its Maple Leaf Train from New York City to Toronto would terminate at Niagara Falls because of the incident.