Hope fades for 44 crew as search for missing Argentina submarine continues

ARA San Juan: Argentina calls off rescue mission for missing submarine crew but continues search for vessel

The search for 44 sailors on board a lost Argentine submarine has ended, leaving nearly no hope for their survival.

Navy spokesperson Enrique Balbi said the mission had "extended for more than twice what is estimated for a rescue".

"Despite the vast efforts made, we have been unable to locate the submarine", he said, though adding that worldwide efforts to find the vessel would continue.

The rescue operation to find a missing Argentine submarine has now changed to a search mission, navy spokesman Enrique Balbi told reporters Thursday.

Hopes of finding survivors had already dimmed because experts said the crew had only enough oxygen to last 7 to 10 days if the sub remained intact under the sea.

While some family members have criticized the Navy for not admitting their loved ones would not be rescued alive earlier, others had held out a glimmer of hope for a miracle and organized prayer groups.

The navy's final contact with the ARA San Juan, a 34-year-old German-built diesel-electric sub, came on November 15, when it was sailing in the South Atlantic 450 kilometers (280 miles) from the coast.




"Despite the magnitude of the effort made, it has not been possible to locate the submarine", he said, referring to the worldwide response that included ships, aircraft and personnel from the United States, United Kingdom, Chile and Russian Federation.

"It's unusually cruel. Every day, it's a new blow".

Relatives of the missing had mixed feelings about Thursday's announcement.

"No one will be rescued", Balbi said.

The captain later communicated by satellite phone the problem had been contained.

The ARA San Juan had a seven-day supply of air when it reported its last position on November 15. "The defense ministry announces the start of the next phase, aimed at searching for the San Juan submarine".

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