Indonesian warships yesterday led the hunt for a submarine that went missing with 53 crew members aboard and only enough oxygen for a few days.
An oil spill where the submarine was thought to have submerged early on Wednesday pointed to possible damage to its fuel tank, and fanned fears of a deadly disaster.
The crew on the KRI Nanggala 402 could have enough oxygen until early on Saturday, but time was quickly running out as rescuers scoured the coast off Bali, where it disappeared.
Photo: Reuters / Royal Malaysian Navy
“The submarine’s oxygen reserve capacity in a blackout is 72 hours,” Indonesian Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Yudo Margono told reporters. “There’s time until Saturday around 3am. Let’s hope we can find them before then.”
However, defense analysts have said that the vessel could have broken into pieces if it sank to a depth as far down as 700m.
Australian Minister for Defence Peter Dutton said that initial reports raised the prospect of “a terrible tragedy.”
The German-built submarine was scheduled to conduct live torpedo exercises when it asked for permission to dive. It lost contact shortly afterward.
Search teams yesterday were focused on an area around the oil slick, but the exact location of the vessel had yet to be pinpointed, Indonesian Navy spokesman First Admiral Julius Widjojono said.
Six warships and a helicopter were sent to look for the submarine, the navy said.
Other nations, including the US, Australia, France and Germany, have offered assistance.
Singapore and Malaysia have dispatched ships that are expected to arrive in the coming days, including the city-state’s MV Swift Rescue — a submarine rescue vessel.
The military has so far refused comment about whether the submarine was over capacity.
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