THE ARGENTINE Navy says that a sound detected in missing submarine search is consistent with an explosion.
Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said a “singular, short, violent, non-nuclear” event was detected off the coast of Argentina around the time when ARA San Juan and its 44 sailors went missing.
One relative reportedly then fled the conference shouting, “they killed my brother, you sons of b***hes”.
He first broke news of the explosion to families, but struggled to conclude the conference as relatives began to wail inconsolably.
Struggling to listen to the rest of his announcement, another relative fled the conference shouting: “They lied to us. Bosses steal all the money!”
That news came as an object detected by a US Navy plane near the area where the submarine went missing turned out not to be the missing vessel, a US embassy spokeswoman said.
The Sun reported the object was spotted near the area where ARA San Juan sent its last signal, according to a witness on board.
The plane, a P-8A Poseidon, returned to its base in Bahia Blanca, Argentina, late yesterday.
The San Juan made its last contact with authorities on November 15 to report a mechanical breakdown.
The 34-year-old German-built diesel-electric submarine — which was refitted between 2007 and 2014 — had flagged a breakdown in its batteries.
It said it was diverting its route from the far south of Argentina’s Atlantic waters to the navy base at Mar del Plata, where most of the crew members live.
But the vessel was never heard from again.
Reports earlier emerged that rescuers are probing a “loud noise” detected a week ago — just hours after the vessel vanished.
Fears are growing that the noise — which happened 48 kilometres away from the ARA San Juan’s last recorded position in the South Atlantic — could have been an explosion.
Planes and ships are now understood to be racing to the area, according to La Nacion.
Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi told reporters a “hydro-acoustic anomaly” was detected in the ocean almost three hours after the last communication with the vessel on November 15.
Asked if the noise could have been an explosion, the spokesman declined to speculate, saying only: “It has to be corroborated and looked into.”
But a former sub captain told AFP privately that it could well have been a huge blast, adding: “It would have been a very loud noise.”
Mr Balbi added: “We are in a very dangerous situation — and one that is getting worse.”
Information about the unusual noise became available Thursday after being relayed by the US, Mr Balbi explained.
It has only just emerged now “after all the information from all agencies reporting such hydro-acoustic events was reviewed”, he added.
It comes as the clock continues to tick down on hopes of finding the 44 crew members alive, amid fears their oxygen had run out.
The ARA San Juan would have had enough oxygen for its crew to survive underwater for seven days since its last contact, according to officials.
But it has now been more than seven days since it was last heard from.
A crack Royal Navy team is among those searching for the stricken sub, joining thousands of troops from the US, France, Germany, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Uruguay.
And Argentina has now accepted an offer of help from Vladimir Putin, who rang the country’s president to say he would deploy a survey vessel and crew with experience of similar operations.
But some Argie politicians have reacted with fury at the UK’s involvement, branding Brits “pirates” and “occupiers”, in reference to the Falkland Islands.
This article originally appeared in The Sun