NY car bomb could have sparked fireball, say police

NEW YORK, (Reuters) – Backyard barbecue gas tanks,  firecrackers and alarm clocks were among the ingredients used  to make a car bomb that authorities say would have killed many  people if it had exploded in New York’s busy Times Square.    

New York police beefed up security in Midtown Manhattan today after the failed bomb was spotted last evening,  smoking and sparking in the back of a Nissan Pathfinder sports  utility vehicle by a T-shirt street vendor.      

“If this had detonated, in my judgment it would have caused  causalities, a significant fireball,” New York Police  Commission Ray Kelly told a news conference.       

“I’m told that the vehicle itself would have at least been  cut in half. You have a number of pedestrians in that area so  we were lucky that it didn’t detonate,” he said.  

The Times Square entertainment and shopping district, often  called “The Crossroads of the World,” was packed with tourists  and theater-goers on a warm Saturday evening when the vehicle  containing the bomb was left on 45th Street at Broadway with  the engine running and hazard lights flashing.  

Kelly said three propane tanks were found in the back of  the vehicle next to a metal gun locker. One of the tanks had  M-88 fireworks attached to it, some of which detonated.      

M-88 firecrackers, say the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco,  Firearms and Explosives, contain 50 mg or less of explosive  material known as “flash powder,” a fast-burning mix of  aluminum, potassium perchlorate and other materials.       

New York is among a handful of U.S. states that ban the  sale of fireworks.    

On the Pathfinder’s back seat, police found two full  five-gallon gasoline tanks with a 16-ounce container between  them filled with more M-88s. Two alarm clocks — one canary  yellow — were on the backseat floor of the car and attached  with wires to the can of fireworks and possibly the metal gun  locker.      

The locker was taken to the police bomb squad facility and  on Sunday afternoon an explosive device was used to open it.  Inside, authorities found eight bags of a substance thought to  be fertilizer, along with a pressure cooker pot full of wires  and firecrackers. A fertilizer bomb was used in the 1995  Oklahoma City bombing.      

“A lot of lives were probably saved (by the quick response  by emergency services),” said FBI Special Agent in Charge  George Venizelos. “No matter where you are in the country, if  you see something suspicious report it.”

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