BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentina's president said Friday that an international search will continue for a submarine carrying 44 crew members that has been lost in the South Atlantic for nine days and that the sub's disappearance will be investigated.
The Argentine navy says an explosion occurred near the time and place where the sub went missing on Nov. 15. That's led some family members of the crew to give up hope of a rescue. Navy officials and outside experts also worry that even if the ARA San Juan is intact but submerged, its crew may be running out of oxygen.
"The disappearance and current search of the ARA San Juan submarine has touched all Argentines. It's a difficult moment for all, but obviously, especially for the families of the 44 crew members," President Mauricio Macri said in his first public comments about the missing sub at the navy's headquarters in Buenos Aires.
"I'm here to guarantee you that we will carry on with the search, especially now that we have the support of all the international community."
More than a dozen airplanes and ships have been participating in the multinational search despite stormy weather that has caused powerful waves. Search teams are ranging across an area of some 185,000 square miles (480,000 square kilometers), which is roughly the size of Spain.
The Argentine navy said Friday that Russia is sending an Antonov transport aircraft and a ship in the southern Patagonian port of Comodoro Rivadavia is being adapted to carry a U.S. Navy submarine rescue chamber to the area.
The German-built diesel-electric TR-1700 class submarine was commissioned in 1985 and was most recently refitted in 2014.
Some relatives of the crew have lashed out at the navy for its response and for putting their loved ones at risk in a vessel that is more than 30 years old.
Although Macri said that it's not the time to point fingers at anyone, he promised a probe of the sub's disappearance.
"This demands a serious, deep investigation," Macri said. "We need to understand how a submarine that had undergone a midlife refit, and that was in perfect conditions to sail, suffered this explosion."