Photo via Los Andes

Navy spokesperson Enrique Balbi informed in a new press conference that the search operation aimed at finding the ARA San Juan submarine has already combed “almost 100 percent” of the search area – about 40 square kilometers – and is currently “analyzing 4 contacts” different ships’ sensors detected at the bottom of the sea.

Balbi clarified that six contacts were initially detected, but two have already been ruled out after confirming they were sunken ships: one was a Chinese ship that had illegally entered the Argentine sea and whose own crew sunk after getting caught. And the other one was an unregistered ship – meaning their nationality couldn’t be determined – used to fish squid. Both were in the Argentine exclusive area.

Don’t forget that yesterday the Argentine navy announced the end of the search and rescue operation, 15 days after the submarine went missing. This means the Navy no longer hopes to find its 44 crew members alive, and its efforts are now only aimed at finding the vessel.

More than 60 family members went to the navy bases located in Mar del Plata and Comodoro Rivadavia to request the search and rescue protocol not be abandoned. “They took them there, they have to bring them back,” Marcela Moyano, wife of sailor Hernán Rodríguez told La Nación. However, Balbi said yesterday that the “gathered information and time passed” points at “incompatibility with human life.”

Defense Minister Oscar Aguad and Head of the Navy Marcelo Srur met with the crew’s family members to explain the decision, but their attempts were met with anger and indignation. “Search and rescue, search and rescue,” they chanted after the meeting. Aguad and Srur arrived and left through a side door and didn’t address the press.