Hopes to save Argentine submarine crew fade as report hints at explosion

Mar del Plata, Argentina: Hopes are fading to save the 44 crew of an Argentine submarine missing in south Atlantic after an Austria-based anti-nuclear test watchdog reported an explosion-like sound near the location where the vessel was last spotted.
Earlier, the US navy had reported an unusual sound after the submarine ARA San Juan went missing in waters off the Gulf of San Jorge on Wednesday last week.
The vessel was sailing from Ushuaia port to the navy base in Mar del Plata city, about 250 miles (400 km) southeast of Buenos Aires.
Argentine navy spokesman Capt Enrique Balbi said the latest alert came from Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (NTBTO) in Vienna.
He said the underwater microphones of the watchdog’s two hydroacoustic stations caught a signal pointing to an “abnormal, singular, short, violent, impulsive, non-nuclear” event.
Relatives of the submarine crew who had gathered at the Mar del Plata navy base broke down on hearing the news of the suspected explosion. Some accused the Argentine navy of misleading them.
Capt Balbi said the navy is clueless about the cause of the possible explosion. Rescuers are searching the waters off the Gulf of San Jorge where ARA San Juan was last seen.
The submarine suffered a power shutdown on Wednesday. As per the protocol, it surfaced and reported the problem.
The sub was ordered to immediately return to Mar del Plata. Soon, another message from the submarine said the short circuit problem had been fixed and the vessel was heading towards Mar del Plata.
The submarine made its last contact at 7.30 am local time on November 15.