The missing Argentine submarine, ARA San Juan, may have been located this morning, after a US Navy aircraft reportedly detected a 'heat stain' below the surface.
The plane's radar is said to have discovered an area of heat around 70m below the surface of the southern Atlantic, according to the reports. This has not yet been confirmed by the navy.
The sub was sailing from Ushuaia to Mar del Plata when it disappeared with 44 crew members last Wednesday.
Argentine navy protocol stipulates that submarines make contact twice a day with the base during times of peace. The search began after it failed to call in.
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The 34-year-old German-built submarine had flagged a breakdown in its batteries. However, It did not issue a distress call, meaning it's unclear whether a problem left the vessel without propulsion or unable to surface.
Naval commander Gabriel Galeazzi said on Monday that mechanical problems were not uncommon and rarely posed a risk. "A warship has a lot of backup systems, to allow it to move from one to another when there is a breakdown," he said.
Frank Owen, from the Submarine Institute of Australia, told news.com.au that the crew could still be underwater and hoping they are brought to the surface.
"We know it's been really rough, so even though the Argentinian navy protocol is to surface, it makes no sense with 6-8m waves to be sitting on the surface," he said.
"If I was in that situation, I would be sitting on the bottom and waiting, doing everything I could to slow down my metabolism and eke out the life support mechanisms, reduce oxygen use and CO2 creation."
People stand in front of a fence blanketed with national flags and banners in support of the crew members. Credit: PA Images
Argentinian navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said on Monday that the sub could run out of oxygen in just two days.
The crew included Argentina's first female submariner Eliana Krawczyk, 35, and Luis Niz, 25, who was due to get married within the next fortnight.
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