(Update: adds Navy chief, military press conferences, re-ledes)
Jakarta, Apr 22 (EFE).- An Indonesian submarine that disappeared with 53 crew members on board has only 72 hours of oxygen supplies left, the head of the Indonesian Navy said Thursday.
The vessel was reported missing on Wednesday morning during naval exercises off the northern coast of Bali.
Yudo Margono told a press conference that search teams had found a source of high magnetism at a depth of 50 to 100 meters, which could provide clues to the submarine’s location in the waters between the islands of Bali and Java.
Margono said an oil slick found in that area could be due to the fact that the German-made submarine might be floating below the surface after the crew members had released fuel to lighten the ship.
Another explanation could be that a fuel tank rupture may have caused the submarine to sink to 500 to 700 meters, he added.
The Chief of the Indonesian military Information Center, Major General Achmad Riad, said the findings “are not sufficient to identify contact with the submarine.”
“Once again, I stress that the various findings cannot be used as a basis,” he said.
Indonesian defense officials said that more than 400 personnel, as well as five ships and a helicopter, have been involved in the search.
Singapore, Malaysia and Australia have offered their help by sending ships to reinforce the rescue mission.
The Singaporean navy has dispatched a vessel used to detect submarines which is expected to arrive in the area Saturday, while a Malaysian ship will arrive Monday, Riyadh said.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne told public broadcaster ABC on Thursday that Australia’s navy “will help in any way it can” and that they were in contact with Indonesia.
The KRI Nanggala-402 submarine, manufactured in Germany in 1977, disappeared while conducting military exercises with torpedoes at a depth of about 700 meters.
A letter from the Army signed last April 16 to which Efe had access invited the media to cover the military exercises of the KRI Nanggala-402 planned for Thursday, which included practice with cannons, rockets and torpedoes in the Bali Strait, which separates this island from the island of Java.
Indonesia currently has a fleet of five submarines, two of German manufacture, including the missing one, which was acquired in 1981, and three manufactured in South Korea. EFE