Argentine navy calls off search for survivors from missing submarine

Argentine navy calls off search for survivors from missing submarine

Argentine navy calls off search for survivors from missing submarine

The search for a missing Argentinian submarine that has been lost for 15 days will continue but the rescue element of the mission for 44 crew members on board has ended, the country's navy says.

"We did not find any evidence of the shipwreck in the areas that were explored", navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said at the navy's headquarters in Buenos Aires.

The search mission would involve a reorganization of the vessels and other assets that have been deployed, and the operation will continue until the submarine is found, he said.

A massive global rescue mission had been mounted for the ARA San Juan since it disappeared on November 15 while traveling from the southern port of Ushuaia to its base at Mar del Plata.

In its final communication, the submarine reported it had overcome a mechanical breakdown that resulted from a short circuit due to the entry of water via the vessel's snorkel.

An global armada of rescue ships backed by aircraft - and thousands of personnel - has been hunting for the submarine for days, with no success.

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"I don't understand this arbitrary and unjustified decision", Luis Tagliapietra, the father of 27-year-old crew member Alejandro Tagliapietra, told local TV.

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

Some hours later, an explosion was detected near the time and place where the San Juan was last heard from.

But Jorge Villareal, whose son Fernando was the ship's lieutenant, refused to give up.

And the navy has come under fire for its handling of the tragedy, as it failed to mention the problem reported by the vessel for several days after its disappearance.

The search for the San Juan has employed some of the latest technology in one of the largest efforts of its kind.

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