The Argentine Navy has confirmed it is continuing the hunt for the missing ARA San Juan submarine and her 44 crew in response to earlier reports that all those aboard had been officially declared dead.
Argentine Navy Confirms Explosion Inside Lost Submarine
"We assure you that the search for the Ara San Juan submarine crew continues," Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi told reporters during a press conference Thursday at the naval base of Mar del Plata, in Buenos Aires, where the submarine was expected to arrive last Sunday.
"The Argentine Navy has not yet confirmed the death of the ARA San Juan's crew. We accompany the families in their uncertainty. We are making every national and international effort possible."
Earlier in the day, families of the missing crew members told reporters they had received phone calls from Navy officials confirming all those on board the missing vessel had been declared lost.
Luiz Tagliapietro, father of crew member Damian, told the Daily Express a Navy official phoned him to break the news. Asked if the crew on board had died, Tagliapietro said: "Yes, yes, yes, yes. One hundred percent. My son's boss confirmed that they are all dead.
"There's no human being who survives that. They are all dead. I can't talk much. They called me 15 minutes ago to tell me that it exploded."
But Balbi insisted that all hope had not yet been lost: "We cannot proceed with any conclusive information such as death. We will leave nothing to chance."
The Navy also insisted it had adhered to protocol throughout the search in response to ealier claims by relatives that the initial response had been too slow and that delays in accepting international assistance had placed the crew in further jeopardy.
Earlier, the Navy confirmed there was an explosion in the area where the lost submarine was last seen on November 15, which could be why the crew didn't use any of the vessel's emergency mechanisms.
Information suggests that the submarine could have imploded, explaining why any wreckage has yet to be found. A sound was detected four hours after the last contact was made with the submarine, which had experienced an electric fault.