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No explosives found in suspicious shipping containers at Seattle port

Associated Press Writer

SEATTLE- Textiles were found inside two shipping containers after a bomb-sniffing dog indicated they could contain explosives and the port terminal was evacuated, officials said Thursday.

A bomb squad used explosive charges Wednesday to cut into the containers, then searched the contents at Terminal 18 south of downtown, a Port of Seattle spokesman said.

All they found were clothing, bedding and material intended to be used as rags, said Mike Milne, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman.

It wasn't immediately clear what caused the dog to alert on the containers, which were from Pakistan. Using detection devices, the port's bomb squad and city Fire Department hazardous materials team found no indication of explosives or radioactive material, officials said.

By early evening, the port restored normal operations, port spokesman David Schaefer said.

The ship that brought the containers is owned by China Shipping Lines. In April, a ship operated by China Shipping transported a cargo container holding 22 Chinese nationals being smuggled into the country. Security guards caught the 22 after they let themselves out of the container and were found roaming around the terminal.

A message seeking comment from Norton Lilly, a Mobile, Ala., company listed as China Shipping Line's agent in Seattle, was left Thursday.

Milne said the ship left from Hong Kong and made stops in China and Korea before arriving Monday.

The terminal is the port's largest container terminal and one of the largest in the nation, covering nearly 200 acres, serving more than 20 steamship lines and receiving more than 40 vessels a month.

A spokeswoman for SSA Marine, which operates the terminal, said the company had no comment.

Markey said containers should be screened before they arrive in the U.S.

"If this false alarm were a real nuclear bomb hidden in a container, federal officials wouldn't have had the chance to evacuate the terminal, let alone all of Seattle," Markey said.

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