Jakarta, Apr 23 (EFE).- Indonesia reinforced a search and rescue operation Friday for a missing submarine with 53 crew members aboard which has less than 24 hours worth of oxygen remaining.
With the help of the sonar system, 21 navy ships and multiple helicopters were combing the northern waters of the island of Bali where contact with the submarine KRI Nanggala-402, manufactured in Germany in 1978, was lost early Wednesday during military maneuvers.
Indonesian Navy Head Yudo Margono said Thursday that the ship, which disappeared after its submersion, has a capacity for about 72 hours of oxygen, meaning search teams have until the early hours of Saturday to find possible survivors.
According to information from the Indonesian Army, the submarine began the dive at 3:46 a.m. local time (20:46 GMT on Tuesday) and about 15 minutes later began loading ballistic arsenal.
The last communication with the crew took place at 4:25 local time (21:25 GMT on Tuesday) before authorizing the launch of torpedo tube No. 8.
Ships participating in the exercise began the search immediately. Four hours later, helicopter teams located what appeared to be a fuel leak near the area where the submarine disappeared.
The head of the navy said the alleged fuel stain found in the sea could be due to the submarine floating at about 50 or 100 meters and crew members releasing fuel to lighten the vessel’s load.
Another explanation, he added, is that it is due to a rupture of the fuel tank that has caused the device to sink 500 or 700 meters in depth.
Australia and the United States joined Singapore and Malaysia in sending ships Friday to cooperate with the Indonesian deployment in locating the submarine.
Indonesia currently has a fleet of five submarines, two of German manufacture — including the missing vessel — acquired in 1981, and three manufactured in South Korea. EFE