A car bomb was discovered shortly after 6pm yesterday in Times Square, the busiest tourist destination in New York City.
A street vendor spotted an SUV parked at the corner of 45th Street and 7th Avenue with its hazard lights on and smoke issuing out of some of its vents. Police evacuated the area and called in a bomb squad. The vehicle contained three propane tanks, two five-gallon containers filled with gas, fireworks, two clocks with batteries, wiring, and a locked metal box. The bomb was defused and forensic experts are studying it.
A large area from 43rd Street to 48th Street, and from Sixth to Eighth Avenues, was evacuated for most of the evening.
Times Square attracts nearly 40 million tourists a year and its hotels alone make $1.6 billion annually. Saturday evenings are one of its busiest times, with tens of thousands of people out for a night on the town or visiting one of the area’s 39 theaters. Even a brief closure for one evening could have an economic impact in the millions of dollars. Numerous businesses and theaters were closed but outside of the evacuation area activity mostly continued as normal.
The Department of Homeland Security has not yet called the incident a terrorist action and has maintained the national threat level at yellow (elevated) while the threat level for domestic and international flights remains at orange (high). In a statement to the press, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the device “looked amateurish.”
At the time of this writing there have been no arrests and no suspects named. It has yet to be determined whether the bomb would have exploded or how much damage it might have caused.