Satellite signals offer hope for missing submarine

BUENOS AIRES Hopes of finding survivors from a missing Argentine submarine with 44 crew members aboard have been revived after the navy said it had detected what could be distress calls.

There has been no contact with the ARA San Juan since early last Wednesday, prompting Buenos Aires to launch an air and sea search with help from countries including Brazil, Britain, Chile, Uruguay and the United States.

The search has, however, been complicated by stormy conditions, Argentine navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said.

But the defence ministry said it had detected seven satellite-transmitted signals that may be an attempt by the submarine to resume contact.

The signals were received at various naval bases with the help from US satellite communication experts, but they did not lock in, thus preventing a full connection.

"Right now, we are working to pinpoint the exact location of what is emitting the signals," presuming that it could be the missing sub, the ministry said.

Early yesterday, the US Southern Command said it was sending a second Navy P-8A Poseidon aircraft to join the search.

The Florida-based plane and a crew of 21 were to reach Argentina later in the day.

A Nasa P-3 research aircraft is already participating in the search, the Southern Command said. - AFP