Argentine Navy ends rescue operation for missing submarine - spokesman

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The search for 44 sailors on board a lost Argentine submarine has ended, leaving nearly no hope for their survival. He didn't discuss what he thinks happened to the 44-man crew.

Argentine navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said the mission "extended for more than twice what is estimated for a rescue".

Investigators have searched for the ARA San Juan for 15 days since it first went missing on November 15.

Enrique Balbi, spokesman for the Argentine Navy, said: "More than double the number of days have passed where it would have been possible to rescue the crew".

The search mission would involve a reorganization of the vessels and other assets that have been deployed, and the operation will continue until the submarine is found, he said.

Hopes for survivors had already dimmed because experts say the crew only had enough oxygen to last up to 10 days if the sub remained intact under the sea.

Relatives of crew members outside the navy base in Mar del Plata Argentina
Relatives of crew members outside the navy base in Mar del Plata Argentina

"Despite the magnitude of our search it has not been possible to find the submarine", he said.

"I don't understand this arbitrary and unjustified decision", Luis Tagliapietra, the father of 27-year-old crew member Alejandro Tagliapietra, told local reporters. (AAP) Relatives embraced after the announcement on Thursday at the submarine's home naval base.

The navy said it followed protocol while looking for the submarine, despite waiting two days after lost contact to begin the search.

The Argentine navy described an "anomalous, short, violent", explosion near where the submarine went missing, prompting many to fear the crew had died.

The captain later communicated by satellite phone the problem had been contained.

At least a dozen countries had joined the search and rescue efforts.

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