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Search for Argentina submarine survivors formally ends

Search for Argentina submarine survivors formally ends
Search for Argentina submarine survivors formally ends

Officials say mission had continued for twice the time 44 crew could possibly have survived

Image Credit: AP

Relatives of crew members from the missing ARA San Juan submarine hug outside the navy base in Mar del Plata, Argentina, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017.

Buenos Aires: Argentina’s navy on Thursday formally ended its search for survivors from the San Juan submarine, two weeks after the vessel went missing in the South Atlantic with 44 crew aboard.

The navy has shifted its mission from rescue to recovery, spokesman Enrique Balbi said.

He said though it was not possible to definitively confirm the crew had perished, “no evidence of a shipwreck was found in the areas explored” and the international rescue effort had continued for “twice the time” it was estimated they could have survived.

The navy’s final contact with the ARA San Juan, a German-built diesel-electric sub, came on November 15, when it was sailing in the South Atlantic 450 kilometres from the coast.

In its final communication, the submarine reported it had overcome a mechanical breakdown that resulted from a short circuit due to the entry of water via the vessel’s snorkel.

Three hours later, a noise similar to an explosion was recorded 50 kilometres from where the crew had given its last report.

The position was in line with the path the submarine would have taken to reach its base in Mar del Plata as planned, the navy has said.