The hope of finding survivors of the Argentine submarine San Juan was close to zero Friday after the announcement that he was the victim of an explosion, but research to locate him continued, amid the desperation of the families of his 44 sailors.

At a press conference in Buenos Aires on Thursday, Argentinian Navy spokesman Captain Enrique Baldi announced that the Austrian analyses of the “recorded hydro-acoustic anomaly” had concluded that abnormal, short, violent, no nuclear origin, corresponding to an explosion “.

Argentine authorities and mobilized foreign ships and planes were still trying to locate the submarine in the South Atlantic. The last position given was 400 km from the Argentine coast of Patagonia.

After a patrol and patrol mission, the submarine was to return to the naval base of Mar del Plata, its home port.

The search zone has been considerably reduced in an area where the depth is from 200 to 350 meters, on the continental shelf, at the edge of a fault that runs down to the depths of the ocean.

Since Wednesday night, three ships travel the area where the explosion occurred, where funds range from 200 to 3000 meters. Below 600 meters, the San Juan would disintegrate, according to experts.

International effort

More than 4,000 people, fourteen ships and ten aircraft are mobilized for research, with the help of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Brazil and Chile. “A national and international effort of great magnitude”, according to the navy.

In front of the base, tears and demonstrations of despair among the sailors’ relatives preceded the official announcement. They had just been informed of the occurrence of an explosion.

“They do not tell us that they are dead, but that they are at a depth of 3,000 meters,” said angry Itati Leguizamon, the wife of a sailor, in front of the naval base.

“They have just told us that the submarine has exploded,” said in tears in front of the cameras Jessica Gopar, whose Tuesday Fernando Santilli is an electrician aboard the San Juan .

“How am I going to tell my son that he no longer has a father? This is the first time I come to the base and I just learned that I’m a widow, “said the young woman leaving the naval base.

Improbable survivors

“It’s terrible. In my opinion, after an explosion like that, it’s difficult for there to be survivors. It’s almost impossible to find someone alive, “said a former submarine commander for AFP.

“A serious problem with a battery can generate hydrogen, which beyond a certain percentage, is explosive. If an explosion has occurred, well, everything is lost, “said the former submarine commander.

The submarine, a diesel-powered, German-built, diesel-powered TR-1700 built 34 years ago, has “500 tons of lead-acid and acid batteries, which release hydrogen.” batteries overload, and hydrogen explodes on contact with oxygen, “said Gustavo Mauvecin, director of the Mar del Plata Hyperbaric Medicine Center.

The Argentine newspaper La Nacion advanced the thesis of an explosion, “consequence of a short circuit in the block of 960 batteries that supplies energy” the building.

This would explain the lack of communications and the fact that the submarine did not have time to activate its distress beacon.

According to the Argentine Navy, the submarine had reported a battery problem before its last communication, a damage considered not serious enough to trigger an emergency procedure. The captain decided to continue the navigation.

Locate

For Horacio Tobias, former San Juan immersion leader , “it was so violent that he did not have time to realize anything.”

Anticipating a possible location of the submersible, two ships had departed Tuesday from the port of Comodoro Rivadavia, in Argentine Patagonia, with a detachment of the US Navy equipped with rescue equipment, likely to be used in deep water, in case the San Juan would have sunk, in order to rescue the crew members.

Russia has announced that it will send an oceanographic vessel with equipment to “research at a depth of up to 6000 meters” thanks to two miniature submarines.

While critics shook the condition of the submarine, the Navy responded that “no unit would match if it was not able to navigate safely.”

Locate

For Horacio Tobias, former San Juan immersion leader , “it was so violent that he did not have time to realize anything.”

The search zone has been considerably reduced in an area where the depth is from 200 to 350 meters, on the continental shelf, at the edge of a fault that runs down to the depths of the ocean.

Since Wednesday night, three ships travel the area where the explosion occurred, where funds range from 200 to 3000 meters. Below 600 meters, the San Juan break up according to experts.

More than 4,000 people, fourteen ships and ten aircraft are mobilized for research, with the help of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Brazil and Chile. “A national and international effort of great magnitude”, according to the navy.

The dreaded drama does not unduly affect the Argentines, far from being in communion with their armed forces. The repression of the time of the dictatorship has left traces.

Anticipating a possible location of the submersible, two ships had departed Tuesday from the port of Comodoro Rivadavia, in Argentine Patagonia, with a detachment of the US Navy equipped with rescue equipment, likely to be used in deep water, in case the San Juan would have sunk, in order to rescue the crew members.

Russia has announced that it will send an oceanographic vessel with equipment to “research at a depth of up to 6000 meters” thanks to two miniature submarines.

While critics shook the condition of the submarine, the Navy responded that “no unit would match if it was not able to navigate safely.”