Argentine Navy confirms explosion in search area of missing submarine

Members of the Argentine Navy look down at the sea from an airplane during a flight to search for the ARA San Juan submarine missing at sea

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.

He said seven ships are mapping the bottom of the ocean where the submarine might be found and that weather conditions are expected to worsen Sunday. The BBC quoted a spokesperson who called the noise from the ARA San Juan a "hydro-acoustic anomaly", but did not give a clear definition of the phrase.

The ARA San Juan submarine stopped communication mid-last week, but the search for the missing sub grew more frantic over the weekend after it had failed to make contact or surface, as would be expected if it was distressed. If the submarine has surfaced or "snorkeled" - that is, raised a tube to the surface to refresh the vessel's air - the crew may have bought more time.

The news was sorely received by relatives of the San Juan crew members.

Relatives of the crew broke into tears at the Mar del Plata navy base, 400km south of Buenos Aires, where the sub was scheduled to arrive on Monday (20 November).

After eight days of uncertainty amid search and rescue efforts by more than a dozen countries, the relatives received word from the Argentine navy that an explosion had occurred aboard the ARA San Juan on November 15 in the area near the submarine's last known position.

The navy did not have enough information to say what the cause of the explosion could have been or whether the vessel might have been attacked, Balbi said.




The information about the explosion didn't come from Argentinian authorities.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), an worldwide body that runs a global network of listening posts created to check for secret atomic blasts, detected the explosion.

Russian President Vladimir Putin offered the president of Argentina help in finding a submarine that disappeared in the South Atlantic a week ago with 44 crew members on board, the Russian and Argentine foreign ministries said on November 22.

The Vienna-based Comprehensive nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) runs monitoring stations equipped with devices including hydrophones - underwater microphones that scan the oceans for sound waves.

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

Balbi said teams have been searching for the missing submarine in waters of the San Jorge Gulf, about 430 kilometers (268 miles) from the coast.

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