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Cargo ship searched for stowaways: 'Tapping' heard from container

June 27, 2012|By Amy Hubbard
  • The U.S. Coast Guard suspects there may be stowaways in one of the containers on the cargo ship Ville D'Aquarius.
The U.S. Coast Guard suspects there may be stowaways in one of the containers… (Reena Rose Sibayan / Jersey…)

Federal and New Jersey authorities are methodically searching a cargo ship in a Newark harbor after a routine inspection of the vessel yielded a surprising outcome: When inspectors tapped on one container, they heard tapping back.

"No voices. ... They tapped and they could hear tapping back," said Fannie Wilkes, lieutenant junior grade of the  U.S. Coast Guard's New York Command Center. 

Wilkes told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday morning that the ship, whose last port of call was Egypt, was then taken into Port Newark Container Terminal, which was its destination anyway.

According to media reports, the Ville D'Aquarius ship originated in Pakistan, and the container suspected of carrying stowaways was loaded aboard the vessel in India.

"Right now they've searched multiple containers in the cargo area where sounds were heard," she said. "So far, they haven't heard anything out of the ordinary."

When contacted by The Times, Anthony Bucci, public affairs specialist with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, sent official word:

"U.S. Department of Homeland Security(DHS) law enforcement officers and agents are currently investigating allegations of stowaways on a container ship that arrived in Newark, N.J., this morning. Officials are currently aboard the Ville D'Aquarius and are conducting a thorough investigation of the vessel. More information will be released once available."


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