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Time—and oxygen—are running out for the crew of Argentina's lost submarine

by Alexa Liautaud
Nov 21 2017, 10:52am

The clock is ticking in the search for an Argentine submarine that went missing last Wednesday as oxygen and food supplies are beginning to run out for the 44 crewmembers on board.

The submarine, if submerged, has enough oxygen to last just seven days, and it’s already been six. Rescuers have already searched 80 percent of the initial designated area without any luck, giving way to expanding the search area, according to Argentine navy spokesman Enrique Balbi.

Stormy weekend weather slowed the search and rescue effort over the weekend, but winds appeared to have calmed down as of Tuesday.

The ARA San Juan submarine was returning from routine travel to Ushuaia at the southern tip of Argentina and last sent a signal on the morning of Nov. 15 when it reported a battery mechanical problem, according to the Argentine military. It was told to return to the naval base in Mar del Plata, but instead the submarine disappeared 270 miles off the coast of Argentina in the South Atlantic Ocean.

“Today is a critical day,” Maria Victoria Morales, the mother of an electrical technician aboard the submarine, told Reuters. “We are holding up as well as we can.”

The U.S. Navy sent its Undersea Rescue Command based in San Diego over the weekend to help find the missing vessel, joining a multinational rescue effort that has included help from Chile and Brazil as well.

Underwater “banging” noises detected Saturday turned out not to be from the vessel, the navy told reporters Monday, dashing hopes of a big break.
“Nobody knows anything, and the story seems to change every day,” Carlos Mendoza, the brother of a crew member onboard, said in an interview with the New York Times. “We want to stay optimistic but know that with every day that passes, good news becomes less likely.”