Missing sub crew families ask Argentina to continue rescue

A view of the entrance of the Naval base of the missing submarine ARA San Juan where family members of the missing vessel are gathering in Mar del Plata Argentina Monday Nov. 20 2017

Argentina has ended a rescue operation for 44 crew members aboard submarine that went missing on Nov. 15, but it will continue the search for the sub, the Navy informed Thursday Nov. 30.

The government has pledged a thorough investigation once the search for the ARA San Juan has concluded.

Contact with the San Juan diesel-electric submarine, carrying 44 crew members, was lost on November 15. The navy would continue to search for the submarine in waters up to 1,640 feet (500 meters) deep.

Balbi said 28 ships, nine planes and 4,000 people from 18 countries were involved in the search covering 557,000 nautical miles; more, including radar monitoring.

Hopes for survivors had already dimmed because experts say the crew only had enough oxygen to last up to 10 days if the sub remained intact under the sea.

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"Despite the magnitude of the effort made it has not been possible to locate the submarine", said Balbi, referring to the multinational response that has included US, British and Russian aircraft, ships and personnel. "It's another lie. They promised us that they would look for them until they find them".

The ARA San Juan was returning from a routine mission to Ushaia, near the southern-most point off South America, when the sub surfaced and reported an "electrical breakdown", which was later described as a "short circuit" in the vessel's batteries.

"I don't understand this arbitrary and unjustified decision", Luis Tagliapietra, the father of 27-year-old crew member Alejandro Tagliapietra, told local reporters.

Some hours later, an explosion was detected near the time and place where the San Juan was last heard from.

During the $12 million retrofitting, the vessel was cut in half and had its engines and batteries replaced.

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