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Rescue mission for Argentine submarine crew ends, search for sub continues

Rescue mission for Argentine submarine crew ends, search for sub continues

The worldwide search for the 44 crew of the missing ARA San Juan submarine has officially been called off by the Argentine Navy, although the search for the vessel will continue in shallow waters.

"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 formal end to the rescue effort means that vessels carrying life-saving devices will leave the search area, while additional equipment for search missions at great depths will be deployed.

Argentina called off the rescue operation for a missing submarine after 15 days, but will continue to search for the vessel.

Relatives embraced after the announcement on Thursday at the submarine's home naval base.

The final message from the submarine reported a leak of seawater and the beginnings of a battery fire, but navy Adm. Gabriel Gonzalez said he didn't consider the incident an emergency.

Three hours later, a noise similar to an explosion was recorded 48 kilometers from where the crew had given its last report.

"They just threw away the last hope we had", said Luis Tagliapietra, the 46-year-old father of one of the missing submariners.

Balbi said 28 ships, nine planes and 4,000 people from 18 countries were involved in the search covering 557,000 nautical miles; more, including radar monitoring.

But Jorge Villareal, whose son Fernando was the ship s lieutenant, refused to give up. "Our optimism is intact, no matter what they say", Villareal told AFP.

The loss of the submarine represents a huge blow to the country s already under-equipped military.


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