TOKYO (AP) _ Rush-hour passengers were evacuated today when a device that could have released a lethal gas was found in a Tokyo subway station. No one was injured, and the container was removed before it could work.

Police were treating the incident as a case of attempted murder, but said there was no immediate link with the cult accused in the March 20 nerve gas attack that killed 12 people and sickened 5,500 in Tokyo's subways.

Kyodo News Service said the chemicals found in the device at the Kayabacho subway station could kill about 8,800 people if they were combined to form the gas.

About four hours later, mysterious fumes were reported at a toilet in Tokyo's central railway station, and three people complained of teary eyes, police and fire officials said. Their condition was not immediately known.

The Tokyo area has been hit by a series of similar cases in recent months. No serious injuries have been reported, and the source of the fumes has remained unexplained.

A police official who spoke on condition of anonymity said a cleaning woman found the device today in a women's toilet at the Kayabacho station during evening rush-hour, put it in her trash bag and reported to police.

He said a timer was set to cut open and mix two vinyl bags of chemicals, one that included a form of cyanide.

A similar attempt to release lethal cyanide gas in a Tokyo railway station toilet May 5 was foiled when station employees doused fires that would have burned open and mixed two bags of chemicals.

That attack was blamed on Aum Shinri Kyo, the cult whose guru and top lieutenants face murder charges in the March 20 gas attack. The cult also has been blamed in another nerve gas attack that killed seven people last year.