BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina has ended a rescue operation for 44 crew members on a submarine that disappeared 15 days ago, though it will continue trying to locate the vessel with international partners, navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said on Thursday.
The ARA San Juan had a seven-day supply of air when it reported its last position on Nov. 15. It had been ordered to return to a naval base in Mar del Plata after reporting that water had entered the vessel through its snorkel.
"More than double the number of days have passed where it would have been possible to rescue the crew," Balbi told a news conference.
"Despite the magnitude of our search it has not been possible to find the submarine."
While some family members have criticized the Navy for not admitting their loved ones would not be rescued alive earlier, others had held out a glimmer of hope for a miracle and organized prayer groups.
After contact with the San Juan was lost, the Vienna-based Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization, an international body that runs a global network of listening posts designed to check for secret atomic blasts, detected a noise the navy said could have been the submarine's implosion.
(Reporting by Maximiliano Rizzi and Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Sandra Maler)