Lost souls of the San Juan: The 44 crew of lost Argentine submarine who were killed when a mystery 'explosion' sent their doomed vessel to the seabed

Lost souls of the San Juan: The 44 crew of lost Argentine submarine who were killed when a mystery 'explosion' sent their doomed vessel to the seabed

'Hydroacoustic anomaly' picked up less than three hours after last transmission

Photographs of the crew of Argentina's lost submarine have emerged for the first time since relatives revealed that an underwater explosion killed all on-board. 

Among the likely deceased is female weapons officer Eliana Maria Krawczyk, 35, and captain of the vessel Pedro Martin Fernandez, 45.

Luis Niz, 25, was due to marry his soldier fiancee in less than three weeks, while Fernando Santilli, 35, had recently become a new father.

Renzo Martin Silva, 32,planned to marry his girlfriend, a soldier, Lieutenant Maria Eugenia Ulivarri Rodi, next year.

Family members claim to have received phone calls from Navy officials telling them the entire crew had perished in a blast.

Officially, Argentina's Navy is refusing to speculate on the fate of the sub's 44 crew members and have vowed to continue the search for the stricken vessel.

Relatives angrily accused the Argentinian Navy of a cover up after they were forced to confirm information that there had been a violent explosion in the area where the vessel would have been. 

A noise 'consistent with an explosion' was recorded by two separate international agencies last Wednesday morning, just hours after the sub's last transmission.

Luiz Tagliapietro, the father of Damian, who was on the submarine, claimed a Navy official phoned him to break the news that his son was dead. 

Asked if the 43 men and one woman on board had died, he said: 'Yes, yes, yes, yes. One hundred per cent. My son's boss confirmed that they are all dead.

'There's no human being who survives that.'

And Itati Leguizamon whose husband German Oscar Suarez was on board, branded the Navy 'perverse b******s' for allowing family members to continue to believe their loved ones could be found alive.

She said: 'According to them, they only found out about the explosion now, but who is so stupid to believe that?

'They are a disgrace. They lied to us.'

Maria Leguizamon, whose husband German Suarez is among the missing, told how 40 relatives gathered at the naval base were told about the explosion minutes before the press conference in Buenos Aires, but before an official had finished reading the statement 'the people became very aggressive'.

She said: 'They are furious, they started to break everything, they didn't allow him to finish reading the statement.

She told Argentina's La Nacion newspaper that there were 'situations of pain and madness' including fainting and seizures inside the naval base as the truth dawned on relatives that they would not see their loved ones again. 

She added: 'They didn't give any explanation, according to them they found out about this today, but I just can't believe that they didn't already know.'

One relative left the Navy base shouting: 'They killed them, they killed my son!'

Another said: 'They are the sons of a thousand whores. They killed my brother because they steal money then send them out with just wire to navigate'.

Escollera Norther, whose brother Victor Enriquez was on the submarine, said: 'They have deceived us, the sons of bitches'

Jessicar Gopar, wife of corpostal Fernando Santilli, said that the couple's son Estefano turned one during the doomed mission: 'It's the first time I've come to the naval base and I'm leaving as a widow.'

Weeping, she said: 'Now I'm going home to comfort our son and I don't know how to explain to him that he will not see his father anymore.

'I don't want to believe that they were so cruel to not tell us, that they let eight days pass without letting us know.'

Spokesman Enrique Balbi refused to speculate on what the noise could have been, but said ships were on their way to the site 450 miles off Argentina's coast to investigate.

But today they admitted there had been an explosion Argentina's ambassador to Austria, Rafael Grossi, confirmed the US version of events.

At a press conference Mr Balbi said that at around 11am last Wednesday, three hours after the last communication from the sub, 'there was an anomalous, singular, short, violent and non-nuclear event, consistent with an explosion' in the area where the vessel would have been sailing.

Mr Grossi is a member of the The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-BanTreaty Organisation which uses a network of hydroacoustic seismic stations to monitor for possible nuclear tests.

Mr Grossi reportedly reported the information to Argentina's chancellor Jorge Faurie, who called the country's defence minister, Oscar Aguad, at 10.15 this morning.

Spokesman Nr Balbi said: 'The two separate reports point to the same time and almost the same place.

'We do not know the cause that produced in that place, on that date, an event of those characteristics. Consequently, we will continue the search, until we find concrete evidence of where the submarine and our 44 crew members are.

He added: 'We will not draw up any hypothesis about what happened until we have the conclusive evidence to affirm it.'

The news provoke outrage amongst desperate family members of the missing servicemen who have been camped at the naval base in Mar de Plata hoping their loved ones will be found safe.

Now eight days since the submarine disappeared, their hope has turned to anger and despair amid reports oxygen supplies would have already run out if there was no hull breach.

Following today's press conference Itati Leguizamon, the wife of corporal German Oscar Suarez, raged: 'They are a disgrace. They lied to us.'

Luiz Tagliapietro, the father of Damian who was on the submarine, tearfully told a radio station that, despite officials refusing to confirm it, he had already been told that the crew had perished in an underwater explosion. 

Weeping, he said: 'They are all dead. I can't talk much. They called me 15 minutes ago to tell me that it exploded.'

When asked if the crew had died, he said: 'Yes, yes, yes, yes. One hundred per cent. My son's boss confirmed that they are all dead because the explosion was between 200 and 1,000 metres deep. There's no human being who survives that.'

Itati Leguizamon, the wife of corporal German Oscar Suarez, claimed the Navy had tried to cover up the disaster.

She said: 'They are a disgrace. They lied to us.

'According to them, they only found out about the explosion now, but who is so stupid to believe that? I´m not an expert but how come they didn't know anything about an explosion for the last eight days?'

She said that Mr Suarez had gone on another mission in the same submarine in 2014, and according to her had also got into trouble because of technical problems.

She said: 'The Navy tried to cover it up. But I don't care anymore, I'm going to tell everyone because I know my husband is dead. I have a lawyer and I know my rights.

'I'm so angry because these bastards are so perverse they have kept all the families here hoping, when they knew they had all died a week ago. They said it was just a minor problem on the submarine, and now they admit there was an explosion.

'I'm trying to keep calm because my husband always me to do that. he was always ready for death, he had commended himself to God.' 

The ship 'is equipped with two deep water submersibles which allow exploratory searches at a depth of up to 6,000 metres' or 20,000 feet, a statement quoted by Russian news agencies said.

The Yantar is a new ship that joined the Russian navy's Northern Fleet in 2015. 

Russia's involvement comes as the search for the sub, which is carrying 44 crew members, enters its eighth day with fears growing that the crew's oxygen supply could have already run out.

The ARA San Juan would have enough oxygen for its crew to survive underwater for seven days, if there was no hull breach, according to officials.

The submarine, which left Ushuaia in Argentina and was heading to the naval base in Mar del Plata, was last heard from as it sailed through the San Jorge Gulf, 450 miles from the Argentinian coast on November 15.

The 34-year-old German-built submarine had flagged a breakdown in its batteries and was ordered to return to port.

 

 

 

UK offers 'sincerest condolences'

 

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has offered Britain's 'sincerest condolences' to Argentina amid fears that all 44 crew members on a missing submarine have died.

Hopes of finding the ARA San Juan plummeted on Thursday after Argentina's navy announced that a sound thought to be an explosion had been detected.

US and specialist agencies said the 'hydro-acoustic anomaly' was produced just hours after the navy lost contact with the submarine on November 15.

Argentinian navy spokesman Enrique Balbi has said the search will continue until there is full certainty about what happened to the San Juan.

But he said evidence showed 'an anomalous event that was singular, short, violent and non-nuclear that was consistent with an explosion'.

More than a dozen international vessels and aircraft joined the search for the San Juan, including a Voyager jet which became the first RAF plane to depart from the UK and land in Argentina since the Falklands War 35 years ago.

Following the announcement of the apparent explosion, Mr Williamson said; 'This has not just been an agonising time for Argentina, but for our whole international community, and this news is truly devastating for everyone involved in this week's search and rescue operation.

'When it comes to situations like this, nationality doesn't matter: all sailors have an obligation to help each other in a time of such desperate need.

'I'm extremely proud of the role our Navy and Air Force have played in the international effort to help, and I speak on behalf of those involved, and the whole country, in offering our sincerest condolences to Argentina and the family and friends of the crew.'

www.prensa.cancilleria.gob.ar es un sitio web oficial del Gobierno Argentino