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Archive for Friday, September 8, 2000

No stowaways found aboard container ship

September 8, 2000

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— Coast Guard and immigration officials trying to find the source of a mysterious pounding sound aboard a cargo ship found nothing Thursday after checking a handful of containers.

"Nothing was found out of the ordinary not listed on the manifest," Coast Guard spokeswoman Marsha Delaney said. "It was a careful, thorough search."

Officials planned to resume searching for smuggled refugees today.

The ship, bound for Oakland, Calif., from Asia, was diverted to Unalaska after the crew heard pounding noises and even punched a hole into a container to lower food and water.

That container was searched first. The manifest listed its cargo as 56,000 pounds of human hair to be made into wigs. Officials found no stowaways, and the hamburgers slipped inside by the crew were untouched.

A second container taken from the same area of the ship contained only machine tools. A third turned up chemicals and another shipment of human hair, but there were no signs of human habitation.

The 860-foot Manoa arrived in Unalaska, 800 miles southwest of Anchorage, late Wednesday. It has 1,556 containers on deck, including more than 200 loaded in China, according to the shipping company APL.

Over the past 18 months, 303 people have been taken into custody after being found aboard containers from cargo ships bound for Seattle, Los Angeles, Vancouver, British Columbia, and other ports, INS officials said.

Three people were found dead inside a container on a ship that arrived in Seattle in January. Fifteen survivors found in the container remain in the United States pending reviews of their asylum requests.

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