Thu | Dec 9, 2021

Frantic search for missing sub as air dwindles

Published:Saturday | April 24, 2021 | 12:14 AM

JAKARTA, (AP):

Indonesia’s navy scoured the waters off Bali on Friday, bolstered by the arrival of a sonar-equipped Australian warship with a helicopter, in an increasingly frantic search for a missing submarine with only hours left in its oxygen supply for its 53 crewmembers.

The KRI Nanggala 402 went missing after its last reported dive Wednesday off the resort island, and concern is mounting it may have sunk too deep to reach or recover in time. The navy chief said the submarine was expected to run out of oxygen early Saturday morning.

“We will maximise the effort today, until the time limit tomorrow at 3 a.m.,” military spokesperson Major General Achmad Riad told reporters.

There have been no signs of life from the submarine, but family members held out hope that the massive search effort would find the vessel in time.

“The family is in a good condition and keeps praying,” said Ratih Wardhani, the sister of 49-year-old crewman Wisnu Subiyantoro. “We are optimistic that the Nanggala can be rescued with all the crew.”

Twenty-four Indonesian ships and a patrol plane were mobilised for the search Friday, focusing on the area where an oil slick was found after the submarine disappeared during an exercise. Rescuers made similar massive searches in the previous two days.

An American reconnaissance plane was expected to join the search Saturday and a second Australian ship was due soon.

“These two Australian ships will help expand the search area and extend the duration of the search effort,” Australian Navy Rear Admiral Mark Hammond said.

Singaporean and Malaysian rescue ships were also expected in the coming days.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo cancelled a visit to Banyuwangi port, where some rescue ships left earlier, to prepare for a weekend regional summit in Jakarta, officials said. He asked Indonesians to pray for the crew’s safe return, while ordering all-out efforts to locate the submarine.