As a multinational search to find an Argentine submarine remains fruitless more than a week after it vanished, authorities fear crew members may be running out of time.
The ARA San Juan, which is carrying 44 crew members, including the country’s first woman submarine officer, was last seen a week ago, on November 15, in the San Jorge Gulf, about 268 miles off the coast of Argentina.
The submarine has only enough air to last seven to 10 days if it has remained fully immersed since that time, experts say. That’s the worst-case scenario. It’s a different story if the submarine has surfaced or “snorkeled” — that is, raised a tube to the surface to refresh the vessel’s air.
“We are in the critical phase,” Enrique Balbi, spokesman for the Argentine navy.
“There is no type of contact, neither passive nor active,” he said.
Reports of contact with the sub have served only to stoke false hope.
Rumors of a recent distress call are false, the spokesman said. Communication signals picked up Saturday and noises detected beneath the water Monday did not originate from the sub, and a dinghy with survival supplies found Tuesday is a different model than the ones with which the San Juan is outfitted, Balbi has said.
Read more: CNN