The 19-year-old woman from Japan, who was studying in Toronto, climbed onto a railing overlooking the Canadian side of Niagara Falls and straddled it to get a better view while holding an umbrella in one hand, according to reports.
She slipped and fell from the railing into the fast-moving Niagara River about 80 feet above the edge of the falls, and was swept over.
The accident, which took place Sunday near the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side of Niagara, was captured on a security camera.
The Japanese woman's body has yet to be recovered, although during a search a rescue team instead found an unidentified male body at the base of the falls, the Canadian Press says.
Canadian and U.S. authorities say they are working to identify the corpse, and that there is no connection to the missing student, who has not been named.
Niagara Falls, one of North America’s most popular tourist sites, is a series of massive waterfalls on the border between the United States in New York and Canada in Ontario.
The Niagara Parks Police described the Japanese student’s death as a tragic accident, and warned tourists not to climb the railing at the top of the falls.
Niagara Parks Police Chief Doug Kane said that “climbing over this wall is clearly dangerous and is prohibited,” but visitors do it every day, the Canadian Press reports.
Still, this is the first time he has heard of a tourist tumbling into the falls from that wall, which is described as a 4-foot-high barrier with rock pillars between the metal railings. Danger signs are posted along it.
“We get about 11 million people a year here who view that annually — this is the first occurrence of this nature that I can recall,” Kane told the Toronto Star.
According to the Star, since 1903 only seven deaths involving people going over Niagara Falls have been judged to be accidents. Only one person is reported to have survived an accidental fall — Roger Woodward, in 1960.
Every year between 20 and 25 people commit suicide at Niagara Falls. It is also a popular attraction for daredevils, with 16 recorded daredevils going over the falls and 11 of them surviving, the Star says.