A vehicle exploded at the border checkpoint at the Rainbow Bridge
JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:
Authorities are investigating a vehicle explosion that happened around noon today on the Rainbow Bridge connecting the U.S. and Canada near Niagara Falls, N.Y. Canadian PM Justin Trudeau addressed the incident today in Parliament.
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PRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU: There are a lot of questions, and we are following up to try and get as many answers as rapidly as possible. We are in close contact with U.S. officials, and we'll continue to work closely with them. We will continue to be engaged.
SUMMERS: NPR transportation correspondent Joel Rose has been looking at the impact on travel - joins us now. Hi, Joel.
JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Hi.
SUMMERS: So Joel, what can you tell us about what happened earlier today?
ROSE: I would emphasize that there is still a lot we don't know, as we just heard. We are expecting a briefing from law enforcement, but here is what we have so far. Around noon today, a vehicle exploded at a border checkpoint at the Rainbow Bridge that connects Niagara Falls, Canada, and Niagara Falls, N.Y. The two occupants of the vehicle that exploded are both dead, according to the Associated Press and other media reports citing law enforcement sources. We know the FBI is investigating, and we know that New York Governor Kathy Hochul was on her way. We are expecting a briefing from her at some point.
SUMMERS: OK, I mean, it's an incredibly busy travel week, and we're hearing that there are a number of bridges in the area - they've been closed. What else are you hearing?
ROSE: That's right. The Rainbow Bridge is closed, for one, but there are also three other bridges between western New York and Canada, including the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, that are closed. The Buffalo Niagara Airport is still open, but it is closed to international flights - arrivals and departures. The airport says that it's also added additional security checks for cars arriving at the airport and that travelers should expect additional screening measures. It's really hard to quantify the impact on holiday travel. I mean, obviously, this is one of the biggest travel days of the year. We don't have any idea, though, how long these bridges will be closed. The longer the shutdown goes on, though, the more of a headache it is, clearly, for travelers trying to get back to Canada from the Buffalo area or trying to get into the U.S. for the holiday.
SUMMERS: And Joel, I know you're still reporting on this, and we're still learning a lot, waiting for briefings from law enforcement officials and the governor, but what can you tell us about what the federal response to this incident has looked like?
ROSE: Yeah. President Biden has been briefed on the incident. So have Attorney General Merrick Garland and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Also, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has sent investigators to the scene. The New York governor, Kathy Hochul, says state police are, quote, "actively working with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force" and that they will monitor all points of entry to New York. In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Kathy Hochul also said that she is traveling to Buffalo to meet with law enforcement and emergency responders, and we'll have an update as soon as there's more information. You know, I just want to emphasize, again, this is a fluid situation. There is a lot we still don't know - if this was an intentional act or if it was an accident, what the motive was, if any. There's just a lot we don't know.
SUMMERS: We're going to keep watching that. NPR's Joel Rose, thank you so much.
ROSE: You're welcome.
SUMMERS: And just a note - in another part of our show, we will hear from a reporter that is on the scene there.
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