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Argentine Navy confirms explosion in search area of missing submarine

Argentine Navy confirms explosion in search area of missing submarine

As the search for the missing Argentina submarine has entered a "critical phase", the country's navy said Wednesday it was investigating an unusual noise detected in the South Atlantic hours after it last communicated with the vessel.

The "abnormal, singular, short, violent, non-nuclear event, consistent with an explosion" occurred near the location where the ARA San Juan was last detected, an Argentine navy spokesman told reporters, according to CNN.

USA and specialist agencies confirmed the "hydro-acoustic anomaly" was produced a few hours after contact was lost with the submarine that was sailing from the extreme southern port of Ushuaia to the city of Mar del Plata.

"At this point, the truth is I have no hope that they will come back", Maria Villareal, mother of one crew member, told local television on Friday morning, according to Reuters.

The ARA San Juan, a TR-1700 submarine manufactured in Germany, was commissioned by the ARA in 1985 and most recently refitted at a cost of 12 million USA dollars in 2014, during which the vessel was cut in half and had its engines and batteries replaced.

Concerns are growing that the submarine could be near the last of its seven-day oxygen supply. "This had been notified earlier, the submarine had a problem in its electrical power equipment".

He also denounced any rumors that the submarine had been attacked, saying there was no evidence of an attack.

The ARA San Juan, which was built in Germany in 1983 and refurbished a few years ago, departed the southern Argentine port of Ushuaia on November 13 and was travelling to its base in Mar del Plata, around 430 kilometres (265 miles) south of Buenos Aires.

It disappeared in the San Jorge Gulf area, 240 nautical miles (432 km) southeast of the Valdes peninsula, in the South Atlantic.

Argentinian navy spokesman Enrique Balbi has said the search will continue until there is full certainty about what happened to the San Juan.

Following the announcement of the apparent explosion, Mr Williamson said: "This has not just been an agonising time for Argentina, but for our whole global community, and this news is truly devastating for everyone involved in this week's search and rescue operation".

Straddling the edge of continental shelf, the search operation is conducted with widely varying ocean depths, some even at a depth of up to 3,000 meters, where experts say the submarine could not have supported the pressures.

Retired navy captain James H Patton Jr said a submarine reaching crush depth, "would sound like a very, very big explosion to any listening device".

In all, more than 4,000 personnel from 13 countries are assisting the search, scouring some 500,000 square km (193,051 square miles) of ocean - an area the size of Spain.


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