Argentina submarine missing for 5 days reported problem in final call: Navy

The ARA San Juan and crew are seen leaving Buenos Aires. Photograph:( Reuters )

AFP Mar del Plata, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina Nov 20, 2017, 02.57 PM (IST)

Argentina's navy revealed Monday that a submarine missing for five days reported a mechanical breakdown in its final communication, and that weekend signals did not come from the vessel, dimming hopes for its 44 crew members.

"The vessel surfaced and it reported a breakdown. It was therefore asked to change course and go to Mar del Plata," said Gabriel Galeazzi, the head of the naval base in the northeastern city, located 400 kilometers (250 miles) south of Buenos Aires.

Enrique Balbi, a spokesman for the navy, meanwhile told a press conference in the capital that seven signals received by naval bases over the weekend were not attempted distress calls from the submarine, as previously hoped.

"We've received the report from the company that analyzed the signals -- the seven attempted calls did not come from the submarine's satellite phone," he said, adding: "We have still been unable to contact them."

The ARA San Juan, a German-built diesel-electric sub, made its last contact on Wednesday.

A multinational air and sea search is under way with help from countries including Brazil, Britain, Chile, the United States and Uruguay.