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Feds: No Stowaways On Board Cargo Ship At Port Newark

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- No stowaways have been found aboard a cargo ship docked at Port Newark where a Coast Guard inspection team heard knocking noises that suggested people might be inside one of the containers.

The Department of Homeland Security said Thursday their search of the 850-foot Ville D'Aquarius was over.

"After a lengthy and exhaustive inspection by Department of Homeland Security officials, the search for stowaways aboard the Ville D'Aquarius has concluded with no stowaways found," officials said in a statement.

One by one, authorities have been checking containers from ship that pulled into port Wednesday morning. In all, officials examined over 163 of the vessel's 2,000 containers.

PHOTOS: Stowaway Situation At Port Newark

The massive search for stowaways began after the Coast Guard boarded the ship while it was off shore around 3 a.m. Wednesday as part of its standard operating procedure. That's when crews heard something coming from one of the containers that sounded like people were inside, said Coast Guard spokesman Charles Rowe.

"Noises of something along the line of knocking sounds, something that would indicate it was a person as opposed to just a random object moving around," he said.

According to the ship's manifest, the container was loaded aboard the vessel in India and said it was carrying machine parts slated for Norfolk, Va.

Rowe said Coast Guard crews didn't open the container at sea as a precaution.

The Coast Guard said the ship originated in the United Arab Emirates, loaded in India and made stops in Pakistan and Egypt. It had been at sea for several weeks.

Customs, Border Patrol agents and Port Authority police met the ship when it docked. Using massive cranes, dock workers began unloading the containers as authorities used x-ray machines to look inside.

Port Security has been a serious concern since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

In 2006, three men were arrested after they were caught running from a ship docked at Port Elizabeth. They somehow made their way on board a cargo ship in the Panama Canal.

In 1998, several stowaways were captured on a cargo ship from the Dominican Republic.

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