Thursday, 14 December, 2017

Argentina gives up hope of finding submarine crew alive

The submarine went missing in November GETTY ARA SAN JUAN The submarine went missing in November
Andrew Cummings | 01 December, 2017, 06:41

"More than double the number of days have passed where it would have been possible to rescue the crew", navy spokesman Enrique Balbi told a news conference.

The rescue operation for crew members of the missing San Juan submarine was declared over on Thursday, but the search mission continues, Argentine Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi announced.

He said the search, no longer considered a rescue mission, would enter a "search and recovery" phase for the vessel.

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

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 also said that an explosion occurred near the time and place where the ARA San Juan sub went missing on November 15.

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"It has not been possible to locate the submarine, and there will be no rescue of people", he added.

On Tuesday, the navy said a sound consistent with an explosion was detected in the ocean near the sub's last known location on the day it disappeared.

"I don't understand this arbitrary and unjustified decision", Luis Tagliapietra, the father of 27-year-old crew member Alejandro Tagliapietra, told local TV.

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

But Jorge Villareal, whose son Fernando was the ship's lieutenant, refused to give up. The navy says the fire caused no flames and was put out.

Among the ARA San Juan's crew was Argentina's first female navy submariner: Eliana Krawczyk, 35.

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