Satellite signals raises hope for missing Argentine submarine

A handout picture taken in 2014 shows the submarine ARA San Juan docked in Buenos Aires. More than a dozen boats and aircraft from Argentina, the US, Britain, Chile and Brazil had joined the effort to find ARA San Juan. (Argentine Navy/AFP)
Updated 19 November 2017
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Satellite signals raises hope for missing Argentine submarine

MAR DEL PLATA/BUENOS AIRES, , Argentina: Failed satellite calls that probably came from an Argentine navy submarine missing in the South Atlantic raised hopes that its 44 crew members are alive, but stormy conditions on Sunday complicated the search.
Boats searching for the German-built ARA San Juan on the ocean surface struggled against waves of up to 6 meters, navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said. The submarine was 432 kilometers off Argentina’s southern Atlantic coast when it sent its last communication early on Wednesday.
“Luckily we have been able to continue with the air search,” Balbi told reporters on Sunday. “Unfortunately, we have not yet had contact with the San Juan submarine, and we will keep working.”
More than a dozen boats and aircraft from Argentina, the United States, Britain, Chile and Brazil had joined the effort.
The submarine probably tried to make seven satellite calls on Saturday between late morning and early afternoon, the Argentine defense ministry said.
“Yesterday’s news was something of a respite for us, to know that there is life,” Claudio Rodriguez, the brother of a crew member, said on television channel A24 on Sunday morning.
Stormy weather probably interfered with the calls, and the government was working with an unidentified US company specialized in satellite communication to trace the location.
“We are checking and confirming that information, and we are trying to squeeze out any information that may result in something concrete to detect the location,” Balbi said.
A search of 80 percent of the area initially targeted for the operation turned up no sign of the vessel on the ocean surface, he said, but the crew should have ample supplies of food and oxygen.
The navy said an electrical outage on the diesel-electric-propelled vessel might have downed its communications. Protocol calls for submarines to surface if communication is lost.
The US Navy said early on Sunday morning that it would send an aircraft with 21 personnel from Jacksonville, Florida, to assist with the search. It had previously said it would deploy a deep-sea mission with a remotely operated vehicle and two vessels capable of rescuing people from submarines.
Crew members’ relatives gathered at a naval base in the coastal city of Mar del Plata, where the submarine had been expected to arrive around noon on Sunday from Ushuaia. However, it would not be unusual for storms to cause delays, Balbi said.
Argentine-born Pope Francis mentioned the missing vessel in his Sunday noon prayer.
“I also pray for the men of the crew of the Argentine military submarine which is missing,” the pontiff said.
The dramatic search has captivated the nation of 44 million, which recently mourned the loss of five citizens killed when a truck driver plowed through a bicycle path in New York City.
The ARA San Juan was inaugurated in 1983, making it the newest of the three submarines in the navy’s fleet. Built in Germany by Nordseewerke, it underwent midlife maintenance in 2008 in Argentina.


Fury clouds funeral plans for Italy bridge victims

Updated 17 August 2018
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Fury clouds funeral plans for Italy bridge victims

  • The collapse of the Morandi bridge, a decades-old viaduct that crumbled in a storm on Tuesday killing at least 38 people, has stunned and angered the country
  • According to La Stampa newspaper, the families of 17 victims have refused to take part in the state funeral, while a further seven have yet to decide whether they will attend

GENOA: Grieving relatives wept over the coffins of dozens of victims of Genoa’s bridge disaster Friday amid growing fury over a planned state funeral, while rescuers pressed on with their tireless search for those missing in the rubble.
The collapse of the Morandi bridge, a decades-old viaduct that crumbled in a storm on Tuesday killing at least 38 people, has stunned and angered the country, with Italian media reporting that some outraged families would shun Saturday’s official ceremonies.
Italy’s government has blamed the operator of the viaduct for the tragedy and threatened to strip the firm of its contracts, while the country’s creaking infrastructure has come under fresh scrutiny.
Authorities plan a state funeral service on Saturday at a hall in Genoa, coinciding with a day of mourning.
Relatives who gathered at the hall on Friday embraced and prayed over lines of coffins, many adorned with flowers and photographs of the dead.
But according to La Stampa newspaper, the families of 17 victims have refused to take part, while a further seven have yet to decide whether they will attend.
“It is the state who has provoked this; let them not show their faces, the parade of politicians is shameful,” the press cited the mother of one of four young Italians from Naples who died.
The father of another of the dead from Naples took to social media to vent his anger.
“My son will not become a number in the catalogue of deaths caused by Italian failures,” said his grieving father, Roberto.
“We do not want a farce of a funeral but a ceremony at home.”
Despite fading hopes of finding survivors, rescue workers said they had not given up as they resumed the dangerous operation to search through the unstable mountains of debris.
“Is there anyone there? Is there anyone there?” one firefighter shouted into a cavity dug out of the piles of concrete and twisted metal, in a video published by the emergency services.
Between 10 and 20 people are still missing, according to Genoa’s chief prosecutor.
Ten people remain in hospital, six of them in a serious condition.
Hundreds of rescuers are using cranes and bulldozers to cut up and remove the biggest slabs of the fallen bridge, which slammed down onto railway tracks along with dozens of vehicles.
“We are trying to find pockets in the rubble where people could be — alive or not,” fire official Emanuele Gissi told AFP.
Officials say about 1,000 people in all are working on the disaster site, 350 of them firefighters.
The populist government has accused infrastructure giant Autostrade per L’Italia of failing to invest in sufficient maintenance and said it would seek to revoke its lucrative contracts.
Interior Minister Matteo Salvini demanded that the company offer up to 500 million euros ($570 million) to help families and local government deal with the aftermath of the disaster.
The dead also include children, one as young as eight, and three Chileans and four French nationals.
The French nationals, all in their 20s, had traveled to Italy for a music festival, and other victims included a family setting off on holiday and a couple returning from their California honeymoon.
More than 600 people were evacuated from around a dozen apartments beneath the remaining shard of bridge.
On Thursday evening the first residents of some buildings in the affected area were allowed to return home, though others are too badly damaged to save.
The Morandi viaduct dates from the 1960s and has been riddled with structural problems for decades, leading to expensive maintenance and severe criticism from engineering experts.
Its collapse prompted fears over aging infrastructure across the world.
Italy has announced a year-long state of emergency in the region.
Autostrade, which operates and maintains nearly half of Italy’s motorways, estimates it will take five months to rebuild the bridge.
It denies scrimping on motorway maintenance, saying it has invested over one billion euros a year in “safety, maintenance and strengthening of the network” since 2012.
Atlantia, the holding company of Autostrade which is 30 percent owned by iconic fashion brand Benetton, has warned that the government would have to refund the value of the contract, which runs until at least 2038.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Autostrade “had the duty and obligation to assure the maintenance of this viaduct and the security of all those who traveled on it.”
The disaster is the latest in a string of bridge collapses in Italy, where infrastructure generally is showing the effects of a faltering economy.
Senior government figures have also lashed out at austerity measures imposed by the European Union, saying they restrict investment.
But the European Commission said it had given Rome billions of euros to fix infrastructure.