Jakarta, Apr 24 (EFE).- Hopes to rescue 53 crew members aboard a missing Indonesian submarine diminished Saturday due to the depleting oxygen levels in the underwater vessel that disappeared during military exercises three days ago.
The submarine had only 72 hours of oxygen supplies left after it was reported missing on Wednesday morning during naval exercises off the northern resort island.
It means that the 1,300-ton KRI Nanggala 402 submarine, manufactured in 1978 in Germany, may have exhausted its oxygen storage around 3.45 local time at the end of three days since its last dive on early Wednesday.
The Indonesian navy and coast guards continue their underwater search near the island where the submarine lost contact.
Indonesian military chief Air Force Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto Thursday said the submarine was reported missing in waters at a depth of about 700 meters (2,300 feet), 65 km off the northern coast of Bali around 3 am local time.
The US Navy’s Boeing P-8 Poseidon, designed for anti-submarine warfare and vessel interception, was to aid the search operation last night, but Indonesian authorities have not yet confirmed its arrival.
Australia, India, and Singapore search teams have also been involved in the operation to find the submarine even as there is little hope that the crew would still be alive.
The search is focused on nine points within a 10-nautical-mile zone, tracking fuel leaks and detected magnetic fields.
According to the Indonesian Army, the submarine began the dive around 3.45 am local time Wednesday, and about 15 minutes later, the loading of the torpedo tube began.
The last communication with the crew took place at 4.25 am before authorizing the launch of the torpedo.
One of the main clues the rescuers are following is a fuel slick found in the sea that could indicate that the crew members released fuel to lighten up the ship at a depth of between 50 and 100 meters.
The navy also believes that the submarine may have sunk to a depth of 500-700 meters (2,000-2,300 feet), more than it could withstand.
Indonesia currently has a fleet of five submarines. Three are South Korean made, and the other two, including the missing one acquired in 1981, are German manufactured. EFE