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Over 100 red imported fire ants found at Tokyo Port

A fire ant found at the Port of Tokyo is seen in this July 7, 2017 photo provided by the Environment Ministry.

More than 100 red imported fire ants have been found inside an empty container at the Port of Tokyo's Oi cargo terminal, the Environment Ministry said on July 7.

This latest announcement follows the discovery of one fire ant in the same container on July 6 -- prompting the ministry to investigate further.

According to the ministry, more than 100 fire ants were found on the plywood surface covering the container floor after the top of the container was lifted on July 7. The ants were subsequently exterminated, but there are lingering concerns that there might be more underneath the plywood, and officials are continuing to examine the container.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which manages the Port of Tokyo, has said that the container left from a port in Guandong in China, and subsequently arrived at the Oi cargo terminal on June 27, before being taken to the city of Kimitsu in Chiba Prefecture on June 30. The container was then returned to the Oi cargo terminal, after the contents of the container were taken out in Kimitsu.

On July 8, the Environment Ministry will look into whether any fire ants have escaped in Kimitsu, in cooperation with the Chiba prefectural and Kimitsu municipal governments.

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