Buenos Aires, Nov 24: An explosion occurred aboard the submarine ARA San Juan, which disappeared in the Atlantic eight days ago with a crew of 44, the Argentine navy said on Thursday.
A “short, singular, anomalous, violent and non-nuclear event consistent with an explosion” was detected on the ARA San Juan, navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said, Efe news agency reported.
Ambassador Rafael Grossi, a nuclear expert and Argentina’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told the Argentine government that the event occurred on November 15 in the area near the submarine’s last known position, Balbi said.
The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), which monitors nuclear tests, said it detected the “unusual signal” near the sub’s last known position.
The navy spokesman called for “prudence” and “respect for the relatives” of the missing crewmen.
The navy plans to continue “the search effort for the submarine and the 44 crewmen,” Balbi said.
Argentina is being assisted by search and rescue units from 13 countries.
On Wednesday, the navy said experts were analyzing a “hydro-acoustic anomaly” detected near the ARA San Juan’s last known location.
The mysterious noise was registered by various monitoring devices on November 15, just three hours after the last radio message from the sub.
The sound was in the vicinity of the vessel’s then-location some 432 km east of the Argentine coast.
The wife of one of the missing crewmen, meanwhile, said on Thursday that the navy did not tell the families about the possible explosion aboard the sub before making the information public.
“They didn’t provide any explanation, according to them they know it now, but how do they know it now? Itati Leguizamon, wife of radar operator German Oscar Suarez, told reporters at the navy base in Mar del Plata.
The submarine had been scheduled to return to the base, located in Buenos Aires province, on November 20.
“They didn’t say that they’re dead, but it’s a logical supposition, they’ve been there since Wednesday,” Leguizamon said, adding that officials were trying to “manipulate” the families.