Argentina chasing new lead in missing submarine search

The Associated Press

La Paz, Bolivia – An unmanned Russian submersible is examining a blurry image which shows an object about the same size as an Argentine submarine that went missing on Nov. 15 with 44 crew members aboard.

The image was given “priority” for review on Saturday because it shows an object about 60 meters long located at 477 meters (1,565 feet) below sea level.

The ARA San Juan is 66 meters long, but Argentina’s navy spokesman Enrique Balbi cautioned that the image generated by sonar is “unclear” and visual contact is necessary.

If the image does not reveal any new clues, Balbi said the search will focus on other signals of interest detected in parts of the South Atlantic where the vessel was last heard from.

Argentina’s navy said on Thursday that it is no longer looking for survivors although a multinational operation will continue searching for the vessel.

“The extreme environment, the time elapsed and the lack of any evidence eliminates a scenario compatible with human life,” Balbi said. “These are hours of intense pain and anguish (for relatives) in light of the loss of their loved ones, our 44 comrades.”

The German-made submarine went missing as it was journeying from the extreme southern port of Ushuaia to the city of Mar del Plata, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) southeast of Buenos Aires.

The navy has said the vessel’s captain reported that water entered the snorkel and caused one of the submarine’s batteries to short circuit. An explosion was later detected around the time and place where the San Juan last made contact.