The search for a missing Argentine submarine will continue but the rescue part of the plan has ended, a spokesman for the navy said on Thursday. The rescuers have allowed for twice the possible time that the crew could have remained alive.
"Navy spokesman, Enrique Balbi stated that the search for the submarine had been extended to more than double the number of days that determine the possibilities of rescuing the crew".
The submarine had 44 people on board.
'It's unusually cruel. Every day, it's a new blow. The navy would continue to search for the submarine in waters up to 1,640 feet (500 meters) deep.
The search involving 13 countries will now focus on scouring the sea bed for the vessel, Balbi said. The San Juan went missing on November 15, when it lost radio contact with the naval base in Mar del Plata, but it was not until two days later that the navy announced publicly that the submarine had gone missing.
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The crew only had oxygen reserves to last for about one week.
The San Juan, a German-built diesel-electric TR-1700 class submarine, was commissioned in the 1980s and was most recently refitted in 2014.
Some family members have denounced the navy's response to the sub's disappearance as well as the age and condition of the vessel.
Experts say refits can be hard because they involve integrating systems produced by different manufacturers, and even the tiniest mistake during the cutting phase can put the safety of the ship and crew at risk.
Relatives of the crew met with Argentina's defense minister and the navy chief Friday at the sub's naval base in the coastal city of Mar del Plata.