Argentinian submarine may have exploded

Buenos Aires: The Argentinian submarine ARA San Juan that wentmissing last week with 44 crew on board may have exploded, the navysaid Thursday, but dismissed the possibility of an attack.
The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), based in Vienna, registered a short, violent, non-nuclear and anomalous event “consistent with an explosion” on November 15, when the submarine disappeared.
The information was consistent with that from a US institute whichalso recorded a “hydro-acoustic anomaly” near where the submarine had last communicated with the navy three hours earlier, said navy spokesman Enrique Balbi.
This placed the event in the Gulf of San Jorge, 1,300 kilometres south of Buenos Aires. Balbi said the navy had no information on the causes of the reported event, but dismissed the possibility of an attack. “We don’t have any evidence to confirm that,” he added.
Argentinian media said a short-circuit in the batteries of the submarine, which it had reported before it went missing, may have caused an explosion. The navy has so far avoided linking the mechanical problem with the disappearance of the ARA San Juan.
It was not known if the eventual explosion occurred near the surface or closer to the seabed, which lies at up to 3,000 metres. The ARA San Juan was able to go down 300 metres.
The news plunged relatives of the crew, who have gathered at the naval base of Mar del Plata where the submarine was travelling, into despair.
“They did not say they were dead, but it’s logical to think that,” said Itati Leguizamon, the partner of one of the crew members. — dpa