Argentina's navy says a second set of undersea noises, detected by sonar, did not come from a missing submarine. The vessel, with 44 crew members on board, reported a breakdown last week and then disappeared.
For the second time in a day, Argentina's military dashed the hopes of relatives of the 44 sailors onboard the ARA San Juan, by confirming that the latest sounds picked up in the South Atlantic were not from the missing submarine.
Earlier, search and rescue teams picked up what they described as continuing noises on sonar some 360 kilometers (225 miles) off the coast of Argentina on the route where the missing sub disappeared last week.
Officials had earlier said the noises were heard along a path the vessel would have taken to reach its base in the northeastern city of Mar del Plata, where it had requested to dock after reporting a breakdown last Wednesday.
But within a few hours, navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said a further examination had revealed the noise was not from the San Juan.
"The sound footprint could not correspond to a sub's ... it may have been a noise from a living thing," he said.
CNN earlier cited an unnamed senior US navy official as saying the noises sounded like tools being banged on the sub's hull.
The news was added disappointment for those families waiting to see if their loved ones are still alive. It came after experts analyzed separate low-frequency signals received by navy bases on Saturday.
After waiting two days to hear if the sounds were attempted distress calls from the sub, the military earlier Monday confirmed they were, in fact, not.
A flag at the entrance to the Mar del Plata naval base reads: 'Argentina, be strong. In God we trust, we wait for you'
Authorities last had contact with the San Juan on Wednesday as it sailed up Argentina's south coast toward Mar del Plata.
Monday was first time the navy confirmed that it was aware of a malfunction — a battery failure — on the vessel.
"The vessel surfaced and it reported a breakdown. It was therefore asked to change course and go to Mar del Plata," said Gabriel Galeazzi, the head of the naval base in the city, located 400 kilometers south of Buenos Aires.
Several boats and aircraft from Argentina, Uruguay, the United States, Britain, Chile and Brazil have been scouring the South Atlantic for signs of the German-built diesel-electric sub, but their efforts have been hampered by stormy weather and rough seas.
mm,nm/cmk (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)