The Argentinian Navy says it has abandoned attempts to rescue 44 crew members on-board a submarine that disappeared two weeks ago.
Navy spokesman Captain Enrique Balbi said: “Despite the magnitude of the efforts made, it has not been possible to locate the submarine.”
The ARA San Juan last made contact on Wednesday 15 November. Hopes of finding survivors faded after a suspected explosion was reported near its last-known location.
Balbi said the search for the submarine had been “extended to more than double the number of days that determine the possibilities of rescuing the crew”.
He added that despite not being able to confirm the fate of the crew, “no evidence of a shipwreck was found in the areas explored”.
Babli said that the “phase had changed” and that the operation, involving numerous vessels and other submarines, was now a hunt for a wreck on the seabed in the area where the San Juan is believed to have vanished.
Eight days after the sub vanished, the Austria-based Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organisation said that it had detected a noise a few hours after the sub’s last contact.
An international search mission has seen the deployment of 4,000 personnel from more than a dozen countries.
Argentine President Mauricio Macri has ordered a probe into the disappearance.