Frantic federal authorities were continuing to search containers on a massive cargo ship last night for stowaways after Coast Guard officials reported hearing suspicious noises during a routine inspection at the Newark port. Inspectors heard knocking from inside a shipping container buried deep within the cargo stacks, which had been loaded in India nearly three weeks ago. The sounds were "consistent with the possibility of people being inside," a Coast Guard spokesman told the Wall Street Journal. No one was found after a search of 150 containers on the ship, but the vessel is carrying 2,039 containers. "Officials will continue to examine containers overnight," said a Customs and Border Protection spokesman.
But several emergency vehicles left as the search was continuing, indicating officials were less optimistic someone would be found. A Coast Guard official said inspectors knocked on containers and received the same number of taps in return—but they couldn't tell where the taps were coming from. Two hours later the sounds fell silent, notes AP. The ship started out in the United Arab Emirates, with stops in Pakistan, India—where it was loaded—and Egypt. Newark is the ship's first stop in the US. Shipping containers are steel boxes, usually eight feet wide, eight feet high, and 20 or 40 feet long.