Argentina is offering a reward of nearly US$5 million to anyone who can locate the wreckage of the missing San Juan submarine, which has been lost at sea, along with its 44 crew, since November.
An exhaustive search carried out with substantial international assistance has so far failed to turn up any trace of the ill-fated vessel, which vanished from radar immediately after a devastating explosion occurred on board.
"Given that the event has an unusual gravity in our country... it is considered pertinent to establish an economic bonus for private individuals that provide information and useful data that will allow us to find the precise location of the submarine Ara San Juan," the Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
Relatives of the crew, who could not have survived the explosion, have criticized the government for delaying the search, abandoning rescue efforts, and failing to communicate effectively with the bereaved.
Last week, a group of 32 relatives traveled to the Casa Rosada to confront President Mauricio Macri over his "distant behavior" and the multitude of empty promises made to the victims' families.
"He said he was coming to listen to us, we talked as a group and the only concrete thing he could tell us is that he had planned a reward, though he never revealed the amount, so that private companies would engage in the search," said Itati Leguizamon, wife of crew member German Suarez.
Marcela Moyano, the wife of First Petty Officer Hernan Rodriguez, said: "I cannot say I'm satisfied. The president's word will not take away the pain and the feeling of helplessness I've endured over the past 83 days. I only want you (Macri) to fulfill what you promised, act and care for our 44 relatives who are waiting to be rescued."
The San Juan disappeared November 15 in the waters of the Argentine Sea, about 200 kilometers off the coast of Chubut, en route to its home base Mar Del Plata from Ushuaia.
The search for survivors was officially abandoned on November 30, when the focus was switched to recovering the wreckage.
By that time, the search had continued for twice the amount of time the submarine's crew would have had oxygen supplies.