Argentina offers £3.5m reward to find missing submarine

Argentina offers £3.5m reward to find missing submarine

A £3.5 million cash reward is to be offered to anyone providing evidence that leads to the discovery of a missing Argentine submarine that sank three months ago off the south Atlantic coast. Argentina’s Ministry of Defence has announced the reward of up to $98 million pesos (£3.5 million) for any information that leads to the recovery of ARA San Juan.

It sank with 44 sailors on board. It is hoped that the money will incentivise international companies dedicated to search operations and deep-sea exploration. Despite a full-scale international rescue effort involving 13 countries in the days that followed the submarine’s final communication on November 15, the search has now ground to a halt.

Argentine authorities travelled to Miami earlier this week to seek further assistance from the US Navy, one of the last countries to abandon the search two months ago. Relatives of the missing submariners allege that the initial rescue effort lasted for only 96 hours and that the Argentine navy ordered it to stop.

They have demanded that President Macri extend the search area and allow private companies to re-start a salvage operation. Mr Macri met the families last week to share plans of the cash reward, the value of which was later increased.

A parliamentary inquiry was launched in December to investigate the disappearance of the submarine that was on a routine training mission from the southern port of Ushuaia. Naval authorities have been heavily criticised for withholding information about the recovery effort. Argentina has even dismissed its naval chief, Admiral Marcelo Srur.

There are suspicions that a faulty battery in the ageing San Juan may have exploded underwater, or released explosive hydrogen, with fatal consequences. Police raided naval headquarters for documents in December linked to the repair and engineering work of the German-built submarine in 2008, which included replacing the vessel’s possibly faulty batteries.

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