Argentina locates missing submarine one year later | News | DW | 17.11.2018
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Argentina locates missing submarine one year later

The ARA San Juan vanished off the coast of Argentina a little over a year ago with 44 crew members on board. The government says it can't recover the vessel, sparking protests by the missing crew's relatives.

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Families of lost Argentine submarine crew want answers

Argentina's navy announced Saturday that searchers had found the missing submarine ARA San Juan in the Atlantic Ocean off the Patagonian coast. 

The government declared three days of national mourning, with President Mauricio Macri pledging "serious investigations" to find out what happened to the vessel, which was found at a depth of 907 meters (2,975 feet).

"It is necessary to honor and respect our heroes and relatives, to whom I wish all the strength to overcome this difficult moment," Macri said in a message of Argentinians.

The San Juan was returning to its base at Mar del Plata on November 15, 2017, when it lost contact and vanished with 44 crew on board.

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Families of the missing San Juan crewmen attend a memorial service

Relatives of the missing San Juan crew attend a ceremony on the anniversary of the submarine's disappearance

'No means' to raise sub

Soon after announcing the sub's discovery, the Argentine government said it had "no means" to bring the vessel to the surface, drawing an angry response from the missing sailors' families. Defense Minister Oscar Aguad told a press conference his country lacked the "modern technology" capable of "verifying the seabed" where the San Juan was found. 

A group of relatives protested outside the naval base Saturday, holding a banner emblazoned with the number "44," referring to the lost crew members.

Cecila Kaufmann, who lost her husband Luis Leiva, said: "Now that they've found it, they need to give us back our loved ones."

"We are going to ask them to refloat it," lawyer Sonia Krescher said. "We need to see the bodies and know what happened."

Read moreTime running out for missing Argentine submarine

Exhaustive search

A massive international search effort in November 2017  failed to find the San Juan, and was eventually scaled back after hopes of finding the crew alive faded.

The undersea craft was located Friday by a remote-operated submersible from the US survey firm Ocean Infinity, which set out in September as part of the latest push to find the sub.

"We would be pleased to assist with a recovery operation but at the moment are focused on completing imaging of the debris field," Ocean Infinity CEO Oliver Plunkett told The Associated Press, adding that authorities would have to decide which next steps to take.

Images of the submarine, which was reported to have suffered an explosion, showed its hull had been crushed and its propellers partially buried. 

The San Juan was constructed in the German port of Emden in 1983 and later underwent a $12 million (€10.5 million) retrofitting in Argentina.

nm/amp (AFP, AP, dpa)

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