The rescue operation for crew members of the missing San Juan submarine was declared over on Thursday, but the search mission continues, Argentine Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi announced.
Argentina's navy formally called off the "rescue mission" at the ARA San Juan's home naval base in Mar del Plata today, 15 days after it made its last contact with shore.
Balbi said the navy had allowed almost double the amount of time it would have been possible for the crew to stay alive if the submarine was under water.
Hopes of finding survivors had already dimmed with experts saying the crew had only enough oxygen to last seven to 10 days if the vessel remained intact underwater.
Some relatives of the crew broke into tears after they received the news. The crew had been ordered to return to a naval base in Mar del Plata after reporting water had entered the vessel through its snorkel.
Luis Taglapietra, whose son Damián was a 27-year-old trainee, told the TN news channel: "This is perverse and impossible to understand".
The captain later communicated by satellite phone the problem had been contained. More than a dozen countries are still searching for the submarine which went missing on the South Atlantic on a patrol. The Argentine Navy said an intensive search for it began in the night hours of November 16.
The San Juan, a German-built diesel-electric TR-1700 class submarine, was commissioned in the 1980s and was most recently refitted in 2014. "He's a hero who must be recognized along with his 43 other crew members".
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