Argentina intensifies search for missing submarine with 44 crew

This undated photo provided by the Argentina Navy shows an ARA San Juan, a German-built diesel-electric vessel, docked in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (AP)
Updated 18 November 2017
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Argentina intensifies search for missing submarine with 44 crew

BUENOS AIRES: An Argentine submarine with 44 crew on board was missing in the South Atlantic two days after its last communication, prompting the navy to step up its search efforts late on Friday in difficult, stormy conditions.
The ARA San Juan was in the southern Argentine sea 432 km (268 miles) from the Patagonian coast when it sent its last signal on Wednesday, naval spokesman Enrique Balbi said.
The emergency operation was formally upgraded to a search-and-rescue procedure on Friday evening after no visual or radar contact was made with the submarine, Balbi said.
"Detection has been difficult despite the quantity of boats and aircraft" involved in the search, Balbi said, noting that heavy winds and high waves were complicating efforts.
"Obviously, the number of hours that have passed - two days in which there has been no communication - is of note."
The navy believes the submarine, which left Ushuaia en route to the coastal city of Mar del Plata in Buenos Aires province, had communication difficulties that may have been caused by an electrical outage, Balbi said. Navy protocol would call for the submarine to come to the surface once communication was lost.
"We expect that it is on the surface," Balbi said.
The German-built submarine, which uses diesel-electric propulsion, was inaugurated in 1983, making it the newest of the three submarines in the navy's fleet, according to the navy.
President Mauricio Macri said the government was in contact with the crew's families.
"We share their concern and that of all Argentines," he wrote on Twitter. "We are committed to using all national and international resources necessary to find the ARA San Juan submarine as soon as possible."
Argentina accepted an offer from the United States for a NASA P-3 explorer aircraft, which had been stationed in the southern city of Ushuaia and was preparing to depart to Antarctica, to fly over the search area, Balbi said.
A Hercules C-130 from the Argentine Air Force was also flying over the operational area. Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Britain and South Africa had also formally offered assistance. 


Bomb kills Afghan election candidate, wounds seven: officials

Updated 51 min 55 sec ago
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Bomb kills Afghan election candidate, wounds seven: officials

  • Another seven were wounded in the blast
  • The latest attack takes the number of election candidates killed to at least 10, the majority of them murdered in targeted killings

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan: A bomb placed under a sofa killed an Afghan election candidate on Wednesday, officials said, as deadly violence escalates ahead of the October 20 parliamentary ballot.
The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, which takes the number of candidates killed so far during the campaign season to at least 10.
Jabar Qahraman had been meeting with supporters in his campaign office in the southern province of Helmand -- a Taliban stronghold -- when the attack happened, provincial governor spokesman Omar Zhwak told AFP.
Another seven people were wounded in the blast in the provincial capital Lashkar Gah.
The bomb had been hidden under Qahraman’s sofa, Zhwak said.
“We have arrested several people in connection with the blast,” he added.
Provincial police spokesman Salam Afghan confirmed the explosion had killed one person and wounded at least two.
Most of the 10 candidates who have died in the lead-up to the election were murdered in targeted killings.
Qahraman was the second candidate killed in Lashkar Gah this month, after Saleh Mohammad Asikzai was among eight people killed in a suicide attack last week.
That incident came a day after the Taliban warned candidates to withdraw from the parliamentary election, which the group has vowed to attack.
Poll-related violence has increased ahead of the long-delayed vote, with hundreds of people killed or wounded in attacks across the country.
Qahraman, a former army general under the Communist regime in the 1980s, had long been in the Taliban’s crosshairs.
President Ashraf Ghani sent Qahraman, a sitting MP, to Helmand as his special envoy in 2016 to help defeat the militant group. Qahraman later resigned.
Preparations for the ballot have been a shambles and with days to go, organizers are still struggling to distribute voting materials to more than 5,000 polling centers.
The election for parliament’s lower house is seen as a dry run for the presidential vote scheduled for April and organizers have said it would not be delayed any further.
It also is seen as a key milestone ahead of a UN meeting in Geneva in November, where Afghanistan will be under pressure to show progress on “democratic processes”.
Almost nine million people have registered to vote, but observers expect far fewer to turn out due to the threat of militant attacks and expectations of widespread fraud.
More than 50,000 members of Afghanistan’s already overstretched security forces are being deployed to protect polling centers on election day.