11 injured in collapse at border crossing

City News Service

At least 11 people were injured Wednesday, one seriously, and three were temporarily trapped when a 50- by 50-foot section of wooden platform collapsed onto northbound traffic entering the United States through a construction zone at San Ysidro Port of Entry.

The sprawling border-crossing facility on East San Ysidro Boulevard was closed to northbound travelers after the scaffolding gave way just north of the primary inspection booths about 10:45 a.m., according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.

The emergency closure of the border port, which is in the midst of a major renovation and upgrade project, could last as long as 12 hours, according to Mayor Jerry Sanders' office. Traffic in the immediate area was expected to remain heavily congested until late in the evening, San Diego police advised.

Debris, including support beams and pieces of concrete, fell onto 15 vehicles, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. Eight of the victims were able to free themselves from their autos, and emergency crews extricated the rest, SDFRD spokesman Maurice Luque said.

Medics took the patients to four hospitals in San Diego and the South Bay. Among the victims were a pregnant woman who suffered apparently superficial injuries and four construction workers, one with serious but non-life-threatening trauma, Luque said.

Two dozen other motorists and renovation workers were evaluated for possible minor injuries, including respiratory irritation from breathing in dust kicked up by the collapse.

Federal engineers were called in to assess remaining hazards at the site and develop a cleanup plan.

The cause of the structural failure was under investigation.

All northbound motorists and pedestrians who normally would cross the international line in San Ysidro were being diverted east to Otay Mesa Port of

Entry, Customs spokeswoman Jacqueline Wasiluk said.

We do not have an estimate of when the border crossing will be reopened,'' she said in the late afternoon.If you do not need to cross north into the United States, we urge you to wait.''

Southbound lanes into Mexico at Interstates 5 and 805 remained open.

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