No indication of terror threat on US-Canada bridge, NY governor says

By Alisha Ebrahimji, Maureen Chowdhury, Tori B. Powell and Emma Tucker, CNN

Updated 10:05 p.m. ET, November 22, 2023
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10:05 p.m. ET, November 22, 2023

No indication of terrorism after explosion on US-Canada bridge. Here's what we know so far

From CNN staff

Police blockade roads after an explosion at the Rainbow Bridge US border crossing with Canada in Niagara Falls, New York, on Wednesday.
Police blockade roads after an explosion at the Rainbow Bridge US border crossing with Canada in Niagara Falls, New York, on Wednesday. Lindsay DeDario/Reuters

There is no indication of terrorism after an explosion killed two people in a car that crashed at the US-Canada Rainbow Bridge border crossing on Wednesday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said.

All four bridges between Canada and the United States near Niagara Falls were closed immediately after the incident, according to the governor. The Peace, Whirlpool and Lewiston-Queenston bridges reopened later Wednesday, while the Rainbow Bridge remained closed, she said.

Asked why the FBI believes there isn't a threat of terrorism, Special Agent-in-Charge Matthew Miraglia said, "We do have someone in mind for it and we’re working through it through the JTTF," a reference to the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Here's what we know:

High-speed vehicle: Investigators believe a man was traveling with his wife in a 2022 Bentley at a high rate of speed when the vehicle hit a curb, then a guardrail that sent the vehicle airborne into the secondary screening area of Rainbow Bridge, law enforcement sources told CNN. The man had plans to attend a KISS concert in Canada but when that was canceled, the man went to a casino in the US instead, investigators believe. The crash occurred sometime after the couple left the casino, law enforcement sources said. Footage on social media and from surveillance cameras shows the remains strewn about with thick smoke and fire billowing. A border patrol employee in a booth also suffered minor injuries, Hochul said.

Leaders briefed: The leaders of both the United States and Canada were briefed on the incident. “We didn’t know if it was a terrorist attack or not at the beginning,” Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said. “However, every precaution … was taken to ensure the safety of the community.” He described the crash as a “tragic accident.”

Travel headaches: The explosion on the eve of the US Thanksgiving holiday led to closures and delays on a busy travel day. International flights in and out of Buffalo Niagara International Airport were briefly halted while other travelers there were warned they could expect additional screening.

This post has been updated with the latest information on the driver.

6:45 p.m. ET, November 22, 2023

Buffalo airport resumes international arrivals and departures

From CNN's Pete Muntean

The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that it lifted the restriction that paused international arrivals and departures from Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

Domestic flights were never impacted. 

7:36 p.m. ET, November 22, 2023

No indication of terrorism threat related to Rainbow Bridge explosion, FBI says

From CNN’s Sabrina Souza

There are no indications of a threat of terrorism related to the Rainbow Bridge incident Wednesday, FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Matthew Miraglia said at a news conference.

Asked why he believes there isn't a threat of terrorism, Miraglia said, "We do have someone in mind for it and we’re working through it through the JTTF," a reference to the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

“We do not have any derogatory information on this person that we’ve identified, we’re scanning his social media, there’s nothing there, we’re still running a full investigation so that’s a preliminary assessment," Miraglia said. “We feel, at this point, this might be just something that occurred, there’s no larger picture here to look at for now.”

Trini Ross, the US Attorney for the Western District of New York, echoed the assessment, saying that the preliminary investigation determined the incident "was not terrorism-related" at this stage.

“But we will continue to stay vigilant," Ross said, emphasizing people can "lower their heightened sensitivities knowing that we do not believe this was a terrorist event."

5:55 p.m. ET, November 22, 2023

Vehicle traveled at extraordinarily high speed, which led to crash that killed 2, governor says

From CNN’s Celina Tebor

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul couldn't confirm the origin of vehicle that exploded at the US-Canada border and left two dead, but noted “there is suspicion that the vehicle may have originated in that vicinity” of a casino. The vehicle was traveling at an extremely high speed before it crashed, the governor said.

Hochul noted “there is suspicion that the vehicle may have originated in that vicinity” of a casino. The vehicle was traveling at an extremely high speed before it crashed, the governor said.

“It’s a Western New York resident who was most likely in that vicinity prior to the high speed, high rate of speed, extraordinarily high rate of speed that led to the crash into the median that sent the vehicle airborne,” the governor said.
6:00 p.m. ET, November 22, 2023

Local New Yorker involved in Rainbow Bridge explosion, governor says

From CNN’s Celina Tebor

A local from Western New York was involved in the Rainbow Bridge explosion on Wednesday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul said during a news conference.

A member of the Border Patrol working in the booth was injured, she added. 

Three land crossings between Canada and the U.S. have reopened; the Rainbow Bridge remains closed, she said. 

There are four ports of entry between Canada and the U.S. near Niagara Falls, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection: the Lewiston, Peace, Rainbow, and Whirlpool Bridges.

Amtrak service remains temporarily suspended between New York state and Canada. The Buffalo airport “never closed” and there has been no cessation of service there, the governor said. 

6:02 p.m. ET, November 22, 2023

No indication of terrorist attack in bridge explosion, NY governor says

From CNN’s Celina Tebor

Kathy Hochul speaks at a news conference on Wednesday.
Kathy Hochul speaks at a news conference on Wednesday. State of New York

There is no indication that the explosion at Rainbow Bridge between the US and Canada was a terrorist attack, according to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.

“At this time, there is no indication of a terrorist attack,” Hochul said during a news conference Wednesday.

The governor said the vehicle is "basically incinerated" with nothing left but the engine, and pieces scattered throughout the scene. “The pieces are scattered over 13, 14 booths so it is a large scene,” she said. 

The investigation is ongoing, she said. 

“We’re going to make sure the public is safe before they go back on the Rainbow Bridge,” she said.

5:21 p.m. ET, November 22, 2023

Traffic resumes at Lewiston-Queenston Bridge on US-Canada border

From CNN's Dave Alsup

Traffic cameras show traffic resuming at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge along the US Canada Border on Wednesday.

All four bridges in the area between Canada and the United States – including the Peace, Lewiston-Queenston and Whirlpool – were closed on Wednesday following the car explosion on the Rainbow Bridge, officials said. 

Border cameras show the Rainbow Bridge where the incident occurred remains closed. 

5:17 p.m. ET, November 22, 2023

Traffic resumes at the Peace Bridge crossing near Buffalo

From CNN's Dave Alsup

Traffic cameras show cross-border traffic resuming in both directions at the Peace Bridge, the international bridge on the US-Canada border near Buffalo, New York. 

All four bridges in the area between Canada and the United States – including the Peace, Lewiston-Queenston and Whirlpool – were closed on Wednesday following the car explosion on the Rainbow Bridge, officials said. 

4:44 p.m. ET, November 22, 2023

Amtrak temporarily suspends routes connecting New York and Canada, spokesperson says

From CNN’s Pete Muntean

Amtrak says it has temporarily suspended routes connecting New York and Canada.  

“Amtrak has temporarily suspended cross-border service between New York State and Canada,” Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams told CNN. “Amtrak regrets any inconvenience to our customers.” 

The rail line’s cross-border routes include the Maple Leaf – a daily train connecting Toronto with Niagara Falls and other points on the US side. A separate Amtrak route services Montreal from New York.