Police clears thousands of tourists from Times Square after bomb found in parked vehicle

NEW YORK – Police found an “amateurish” but potentially powerful bomb in a smoking sport utility vehicle in Times Square, then cleared the streets of thousands of tourists milling through the landmark district so they could dismantle it, authorities said Sunday.

“We avoided what could have been a very deadly event,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. “It certainly could have exploded and had a pretty big fire and a decent amount of explosive impact.”

Investigators removed three propane tanks, fireworks, two filled 5-gallon gasoline containers, and two clocks with batteries, electrical wire, and other components from the back of the Nissan Pathfinder, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. A black metal box resembling a gun locker was also recovered and will be detonated off site he said.

Bloomberg called the explosive device “amateurish” and Kelly said the explosives were consumer-grade fireworks but could have caused huge damage on a block of Broadway theaters and restaurants teeming with tourists.

“I think the intent was to cause a significant ball of fire,” Kelly said.