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Hunt for missing submarine

Sounds detected by probes deep in the South Atlantic on Monday did not come from an Argentine submarine that has been lost for five days, the country's navy said Monday, dashing newfound hope among relatives of the 44 sailors aboard.

Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi told reporters that the "noise" was analyzed and experts determined it was likely "biological." He said the sounds did not come from tools being banged against the hull of a submarine as was previously reported by some media.

"We all had hope, but unfortunately this comes from believing sources that are not trustworthy," Balbi said. "Some sources were saying that this was banging on the hull in Morse code signals."

The noise was heard by two Argentine navy ships about 360 kilometres from the Argentine coast and at a depth of about 200 metres. A U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft was sent to help in the effort to isolate the source of the sounds.

The ARA San Juan went missing Wednesday as it sailed from the extreme southern port of Ushuaia to the coastal city of Mar del Plata. More than a dozen international vessels and aircraft have joined the search.

In the first confirmation of a malfunction, an Argentine navy official said earlier Monday that the submarine reported a battery failure Wednesday and was returning to base when it went missing.

Brief satellite calls over the weekend had originally been thought to indicate the crew was trying to re-establish contact, prompting emotional celebrations by family members and officials. But Balbi said earlier Monday that officials analyzed the seven low-frequency satellite signals and determined they were not received from the submarine.

Although the German-built diesel-electric vessel carried enough food, oxygen and fuel for the crew to survive about 90 days on the sea's surface, the sub had only enough oxygen to last seven days submerged, Balbi said.



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