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Argentina missing submarine: Loud noise investigated

From BBC - November 23, 2017

Argentina's navy is investigating reports of a loud noise detected a few hours after a submarine went missing.

The ARA San Juan disappeared last Wednesday with 44 people on board.

A spokesman called the noise a "hydro-acoustic anomaly" and would not confirm whether there had been an explosion.

Captain Enrique Balbi said the situation was getting critical and "concern is growing more and more" amid fears oxygen on board is close to running out.

One crew member's sister said: "I feel like I am waiting for a corpse."

Elena Alfaro, who was waiting alongside other family members at the Mar del Plata naval base, told TN news network: "I feel like I am at a wake. I also feel time passing and time is crucial."

More than a dozen countries including Russia and the US have sent resources to take part in the search for the submarine.

On Thursday, a US Navy aircraft detected an "object" near the submarine's last known location, the news agency Reuters reported, but the US Navy quickly confirmed that it was not from the missing sub.

On Wednesday, Mr Balbi told journalists: "Today is the seventh day, which was critical for oxygen capacity."

The loud noise happened four or five hours after the submarine's last radio contact, about 30 nautical miles (60 kilometres) north of its last-known position.

"It's a noise," Mr Balbi said. "We do not want to speculate."

Brazil, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Peru, South Africa, Uruguay and the UK are among the countries that have sent either ships or planes to help with the search.

The US navy has deployed two underwater vehicles which use sonar to create images of the sea floor.

A Nasa research aircraft has also flown over the search area but failed to spot anything.

What happened to the sub?

The ARA San Juan was returning from a routine mission to Ushuaia, near the southern-most tip of South America, when it reported an "electrical breakdown".

According to naval commander Gabriel Galeazzi, the submarine surfaced and reported the breakdown, which Capt Galeazzi described as a "short circuit" in the sub's batteries.

The sub was ordered to cut its mission short and return to the naval base in Mar del Plata immediately.

According to Mr Balbi, the captain of the ARA San Juan contacted the naval base once more after reporting the problem.

How was the alarm raised?

When did news of the breakdown emerge?

Who is on board?

How the missing submarine could be located

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