TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - The Argentine Navy has abandoned hopes of finding survivors from the missing submarine ARA San Juan, as it called off rescue efforts 15 days after the vessel disappeared in the South Atlantic.
Captain Enrique Balbi, a Navy spokesperson, insisted the search aspect of the operation would continue until the submarine was located, and refused to officially confirm that its 44 crew members had perished, insisting a "categorical" announcement would not come until the San Juan was found.
But, in the closest the force has come to acknowledging the fate of those on board, he stressed that the search had now continued for "more than double the period in which there would have been possibilities of rescue".
Without surfacing, the submarine would have had oxygen supplies for only seven days. With the only clue as to the vessel’s fate the detection of an apparent underwater explosion three hours after it lost contact on November 15, investigators have concluded that it subsequently sank to the sea bed. It is there that the reduced search effort will now focus, within a 40km radius of the site of the explosion.
The vast two-week operation has pulled in teams and equipment from 18 countries, with 28 boats and nine aircraft visually searching an area of 557,000 square nautical miles and more than 1 million square nautical miles scoured by radar. But despite the magnitude of the search, there had been “no trace” of the ARA San Juan, the Navy spokesperson lamented.