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01 December 2017, 06:39 | Kara Nash
ARA San Juan: Argentina calls off rescue mission for missing submarine crew but continues search for vessel
Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said the rescue mission had "extended for more than twice what is estimated for a rescue".
Argentina's navy said Thursday that it is no longer looking for survivors among the 44 sailors aboard a submarine missing for 15 days, though a multinational operation will continue looking for the vessel.
Officials have said the submarine had enough air for seven to 10 days when submerged.
The San Juan went missing November 15 after losing radio contact with its home naval base in Mar del Plata, but it was not until two days later that the navy revealed that the submarine had gone missing.
"We've had 28 ships, nine aircraft, 4,000 people involved, 18 countries supporting", Balbi told reporters.
"Despite the magnitude of the effort made, it has not been possible to locate the submarine", he said, referring to the worldwide response that included ships, aircraft and personnel from the United States, United Kingdom, Chile and Russian Federation.
There had been hope personnel aboard the sub could still be alive, even though oxygen supplies were said to have run out one week into the search.
Luis Taglapietra, whose son Damián was a 27-year-old trainee, told the TN news channel: "This is perverse and impossible to understand".
"It's unusually cruel. Every day, it's a new blow".
Banners and Argentine flags with message in support of submarine crew members are displayed outside Argentina's Navy base in Mar del Plata, on the Atlantic coast south of Buenos Aires, on November 19, 2017.
"No one will be rescued", Balbi said. The captain later communicated by satellite phone that the problem had been contained.
Three hours later, a noise similar to an explosion was recorded 48 kilometers from where the crew had given its last report. President Mauricio Macri has promised a full investigation.
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