Frustrated relatives demand Argentine authorities do more to find submarine

Frustrated relatives demand Argentine authorities do more to find submarine

18:00 - Nearly two weeks after Argentina’s navy lost contact with a submarine in the Atlantic Ocean, relatives of the 44 crew members on board are expressing their frustration with the investigation into their disappearance.

Nearly two weeks after Argentina’s navy lost contact with a submarine in the Atlantic Ocean, relatives of the 44 crew members on board are expressing their frustration with the investigation into their disappearance.

The brother of the chief machinist on the missing vessel, Hernan Rodriguez, told Argentine news website Infobaehe was angry with Argentina’s naval authorities and government.

"They still haven't found the bodies,” Claudio Rodriguez told the Infobae last week. “When they do, and when they bring them home -- that is, if they can -- I, as family, will expect that some of the top brass pay for this.”

Itatí Leguizamon, a lawyer whose husband, German Suarez, was aboard the submarine, told "La Noche de Mirtha", a national television talk show, on Saturday that the Argentine government had sent contradictory signals.

She told the show it had frozen the crew members’ assets, which she claimed was typically done when people are believed to be dead.

"At the same time, the navy is telling us they are not dead, that they still hold out hope that they survived," Leguizamon told "La Noche de Mirtha."

Last week, Leguizamon told ABC News that authorities said they believed there had been an explosion on board.

Leguizamon also said that her husband had expressed his doubts to her about the safety of the submarine, the ARA San Juan.

"He had the sensation every time he boarded [the submarine] that it was like a Russian roulette,” she said.

Marta Vallejos, whose brother, Cesar Vallejos, was on board, began a fast on Sunday and told reporters outside the base the next day that she would continue "until all the crew members return home."

Vallejos asked Argentina to unite behind the missing submariners "so that a miracle can happen." She said she supported the Argentine navy and had faith the crew members -- who she called "very professional, well-trained and prepared for situations like this" -- would all come home safely.

The navy said today that some more specialized equipment had arrived at the search area off Argentina’s coast, where the submarine went missing during a trip from the country’s southern tip to Mar del Plata, a city farther north on Argentina’s coast. The search, navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said, was now concentrating on about 1,544 square miles of water and involved 28 ships, nine airplanes, and over 4,000 people from 18 countries.

The navy has said that the vessel’s last communication took place on Nov. 15 and that its commander had complained of battery and electrical issues before the vessel disappeared.

Last week, officials said a sound had been detected near the vessel’s last known location that suggested an explosion had occurred soon after the submarine went missing. On Monday, they said that water had entered the submarine’s snorkel and short circuited the battery.

Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri has barely addressed the topic of the submarine in public. Last week, he held a contentious meeting with family members in Mar del Plata, Argentina, where relatives have congregated at a naval base. On Friday, he gave a three-minute statement at navy headquarters without taking any questions. Argentina’s Defense Minister Oscar Aguad has also made few statements in public.

 

"Obviously the families are suffering terribly and tensions are very high,” the navy’s liaison between top officials and the families in Mar de Plata told ABC News on Monday, requesting that his name not be used so he could talk about the ongoing investigation.

The liaison said he has regularly briefed the relatives before updates on the search have been shared with reporters.

Leguizamon, whose husband was on board, told reporters outside the base on Monday that she had been blocked from entering the base in Mar del Plata because of her public statements, although she did not say who was preventing her access.

But the navy liaison denied the military had stopped her.

“We don't deny any family members entry to the base,” he said. “But there are divisions and hard feelings, especially when aired in public."

 

 

 

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