BUENOS AIRES, December 1. /TASS/. The rescue operation for crew members of the missing San Juan submarine was declared over on Thursday, but the search mission continues, Argentine Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi announced.
"The search-and-rescue effort is over," he told reporters. "The defense ministry announces the start of the next phase, aimed at searching for the San Juan submarine."
According to the Argentine Navy, the rescue operation lasted two times as long as the estimated period during which crew members could be found alive.
The formal end to the rescue effort means that vessels carrying life-saving devices will leave the search area, while additional equipment for search missions at great depths will be deployed.
ARA San Juan, a diesel-electric powered submarine with a 44-strong crew aboard, stopped responding to radio communications on November 15. The Argentine Navy said an intensive search for it began in the night hours of November 16. A search and rescue operation was launched on the following day.