Argentine submarine still missing, Russia joins the search operation
Russia has joined the search for Argentina’s missing submarine and is expected to deploy a remote-controlled device to trawl the sea on Saturday. It is one of a dozen countries involved in the search to find out what happened to the ARA San Juan and its 44-person crew.
The sub last made contact on Wednesday 15 November. Hopes of finding survivors have faded since a suspected explosion was reported near its last-known location.
Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri said, on Friday, that an inquiry would be launched to find out the “truth” after a week of uncertainty and speculation.
Some of the relatives of the missing crew members have expressed anger at the government and the navy, saying the 34-year-old submarine was in ill repair and unsafe. But the Argentine navy on Saturday insisted the submarine was cleared in routine checks before it set off.
Mr Macri said it had recently undergone a refit and was “in perfect condition”.
Russia’s Antonov aircraft – one of the world’s largest planes – landed in Comodoro Rivadavia, a city in southern Argentina, on Friday night. An expectant crowd came to watch, according to local media. From there it headed to Ushuaia, the country’s southern-most town, where the ARA San Juan began its recent trip.
It arrived in Argentina carrying an unmanned submersible, known as the Pantera Plus, which conducts sonar scans up to a depth of 1,000 meters (3330ft).
The Russian Ministry of Defence has also sent a scientific exploration ship, Yantar, which is yet to arrive having set off from near the coast of West Africa. It will be able to search at an even deeper level.
According to AFP news agency, past tests have shown that depths plummet to more than 3,000 meters on the edge of the Argentine shelf. Experts say the Argentine sub would begin to break-up once below depths of around 600 meters.
The US, the UK, Brazil, Chile, Norway, Germany, Canada, France, Peru, Colombia and Uruguay have also joined the search.
The US Navy has also deployed two underwater vehicles that conduct sonar scans. A NASA research aircraft has flown over the search area but failed to spot anything.