[Updated] Cars, Pedestrians Crossing Mexico-U.S. Border Stuck in Tijuana After Scaffolding Collapse
Update, 4 p.m.: The wait time at the Otay crossing into the U.S. is over two hours, both in car and on foot. The southbound lanes into Tijuana have been re-opened, but border officials Tweet that they will not be "processing pedestrians or vehicles through the San Ysidro port of entry at this time."
Update: The wood-and-concrete structure that fell crushed 15 cars on their way into America. Of 11 victims who were injured, one was a pregnant woman. Details and VIDEO after the jump.
Originally posted at 12:45 p.m.
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Uh-oh. Hope no San Diego college students were still straggling northbound this morning after some underage shenanigans in TJ last night:
News reports indicate that scaffolding over the Mexico-to-U.S. border crossing collapsed around 10:45 a.m., injuring
one to three 11 people and clogging the busiest land border in the world. (Reuters estimates that 45 million pass through each year.)
Both cars and pedestrians trying to get into the U.S. are at a standstill...
... though those lucky enough to be on wheels are reportedly being redirected to the Tecate and Otay Mesa crossings. Sounds like the clusterfuck of the century: The Associated Press reports that "footage from television news helicopters show all 24 lanes headed into San Diego are closed."
We can't imagine the task of turning that entire wall of cars around could be going very smoothly. (And all while ensuring no unruly fence-hoppers or iguana smugglers sneak past amid the chaos.)
Update: KTLA has posted this video from the scene.
Ironically, the scaffolding that collapsed this morning was part of a $577 million construction project to expand the terminally clogged pass, and -- even more ironically -- the scaffolding itself was installed to protect cars from the construction.
We've contacted U.S. Customs and Border Protection for more information. Updates to come as the disaster unfolds.
Update: The North County Times wrote in August that the San Ysidro Port of Entry renovation, originally slated for finish in 2016, could soon be delayed, "unless Congress allocates more money to finish the project." From the piece:
Traffic delays at the border and an aging infrastructure have cost the region billions of dollars in international commerce, business leaders and regional planners.
The renovation project would allow vehicle and pedestrian traffic to flow more easily through the border between Mexico and the United States at San Ysidro.
How long can government planners expect to leave spidery scaffolding propping up their halfway-finished projects without some sort of crumble?
Update: The L.A. Fire Department tells CNN Mexico that three persons, including a pregnant woman, and 15 cars were beneath the scaffolding when it fell. All passengers and on-foot victims were given immediate emergency service.
Update: Mexican journalist Joaquín López-Dóriga Tweets that there are 17 injuries overall.
Update: The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department tells the Union-Tribune that both northbound and southbound crossers have been halted. The injury count has been raised to over 20, though only about half of those have been hospitalized, according to the U-T. Here's more on the aftermath of the 50-by-50-foot accident:
Construction workers rescued three people who were trapped in vehicles, while other motorists were able to get out on their own.
At least two people were taken to Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista with major trauma, a hospital spokesperson said. Others were taken to other hospitals with unknown injuries.
About a dozen other motorists and construction workers were being evaluated by paramedics for possible injuries, mostly complaints of breathing in dust following the collapse, Luque said.
Meanwhile, CBP has no estimate for when crossing can resume.
Update: This horrifying photo of the damage at San Ysidro, shot by Union-Tribune photographer Howard Lipin, is being passed around on Twitter. (Reuters has another, but it's not as striking.) One victim's car can be seen poking out from the debris:
Howard Lipin via the San Diego Union-Tribune
The only victim still in serious condition is a construction worker from the site, the AP reports. San Diego fire officials are now saying that 24 people were examined at the scene, but that 13 of those were not injured -- leaving 11 injuries in total.