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New clue in search for sub

Ships and planes hunting for a missing Argentine submarine with 44 crew members will return to a previously search area after officials said Wednesday that a noise made a week ago in the South Atlantic could provide a clue to the vessel's location.

The Argentina navy spokesman, Capt. Enrique Balbi, said the "hydro-acoustic anomaly" was determined by the United States and specialist agencies to have been produced Nov. 15, just hours after the final contact with the ARA San Juan and could have come from the sub.

The sound originated about 30 miles north of the submarine's last registered position, he said.

"It's a noise. We don't want to speculate" about what caused it, Balbi said.

He said Argentine navy ships as well as a U.S. P-8 Poseidon aircraft and a Brazilian air force plane would return to the area to check out the clue, even though the area already was searched.

U.S. Navy Lt. Lily Hinz later said the unusual sound detected underwater could not be attributed to marine life or naturally occurring noise in the ocean. She declined to speculate whether it might have been an explosion, saying experts did not know what it was.

"It was not a whale, and it is not a regularly occurring sound," Hinz said.

On land, relatives of the submarine's crew grew increasingly distressed as experts said the vessel lost for seven days might be reaching a critical period of low oxygen.

The San Juan went missing as it was sailing from the extreme southern port of Ushuaia to the city of Mar del Plata, about 400 kilometres southeast of Buenos Aires.

The Argentine navy and outside experts worry that oxygen for the crew would last only seven to 10 days if the sub was intact but submerged.



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