Argentina's navy says it's not giving up hope that crew members could be alive 11 days after the ARA San Juan submarine vanished off the Atlantic coast with 44 people aboard.
Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi told a news conference Sunday that the passage of time doesn't rule out "a situation of extreme survival."
The drama of the missing submarine has exposed rifts between the government and the Armed Forces as attention turns to who will take responsibility for the disappearance and for the lives onboard.
Security Minister Oscar Aguad said Monday that the Navy had “our absolutely support and there is no difference between us”.
“We are a team, here and in Buenos Aires,” he said from the Puerto Belgrano Naval Base near Bahía Blanca.
Loved ones of the 44 missing officers have been vocal in their disgust at the Navy’s alleged corruption and mishandling of the case, with some having called on President Mauricio Macri to overhaul the force as soon as possible.
Opposition parties, meanwhile, are calling for Aguad to testify before Congress. His unexperienced inner circle, particularly Graciela Villata in charge of emergency response, is under pressure to distance itself from any mishandling of the rescue effort.
Navy officials say they fear there was an explosion involving the vessel that lost contact on November 15. And experts say the ARA San Juan had only about 10 days of oxygen supply at the outside.
Relatives of the missing 44 say the Navy held this information from them.
The submarine had been expected to dock on November 19 in the port of Mar del Plata.
So far there's been no sign of the sub, but Balbi said the multinational search effort is continuing.