Argentina says noise wasn’t from missing sub

Argentina's President Mauricio Macri talks to Chief of the Atlantic Naval Area, Rear Admiral Gabriel Gonzalez and Argentina's Navy Deputy Chief, Vice Admiral Miguel Angel Mascolo at the Naval Base where the missing at sea ARA San Juan submarine sailed from in Mar del Plata, Argentina on Monday. (REUTERS)
Updated 21 November 2017
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Argentina says noise wasn’t from missing sub

MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina: Sounds detected by probes deep in the South Atlantic on Monday did not come from an Argentine submarine that has been lost for five days, the country’s navy said Monday, dashing newfound hope among relatives of the 44 sailors aboard.
Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi told reporters that the “noise” was analyzed and experts determined it was likely “biological.” He said the sounds did not come from tools being banged against the hull of a submarine as was previously reported by some media.
“We all had hope, but unfortunately this comes from believing sources that are not trustworthy,” Balbi said. “Some sources were saying that this was banging on the hull in Morse code signals.”
The noise was heard by two Argentine navy ships about 220 miles (360 kilometers) from the Argentine coast and at a depth of about 650 feet (200 meters). A US Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft was sent to help in the effort to isolate the source of the sounds.
The ARA San Juan went missing Wednesday as it sailed from the extreme southern port of Ushuaia to the coastal city of Mar del Plata. More than a dozen international vessels and aircraft have joined the search, which has been hindered by stormy weather that has caused waves up to 20 feet (6 meters).
In the first confirmation of a malfunction, an Argentine navy official said earlier Monday that the submarine reported a battery failure Wednesday and was returning to base when it went missing.
Brief satellite calls over the weekend had originally been thought to indicate the crew was trying to re-establish contact, prompting emotional celebrations by family members and officials. But Balbi said earlier Monday that officials analyzed the seven low-frequency satellite signals and determined they were not received from the submarine.
Although the German-built diesel-electric vessel carried enough food, oxygen and fuel for the crew to survive about 90 days on the sea’s surface, the sub had only have enough oxygen to last seven days submerged, Balbi said.
At the Vatican, Pope Francis, a native of Argentina, said he was sending “fervent prayers” for the crew.
The US Navy ordered its Undersea Rescue Command based in San Diego, California, to deploy to Argentina to support the search for the submarine. The command includes a remotely operated vehicle and vessels capable of rescuing people from bottomed submarines.
Pledges of help also came from Chile, Uruguay, Peru, Brazil and Britain, the latter sending a polar exploration vessel, HMS Protector.
Some relatives of the missing crew members took to social media Monday to ask for support during the search.
“Pray so that my husband, Fernando Santilli can return home,” Jesica Gopar wrote. “He’s in the San Juan submarine.”
The submarine was originally scheduled to arrive Monday at the navy’s base in Mar del Plata, which is about 250 miles (400 kilometers) southeast of Buenos Aires. Argentine President Mauricio Macri met with family members at the base as they waited anxiously for news about their loved ones.
“We can make up a thousand movies with happy and sad endings, but the reality is that the days pass by and not knowing anything kills you,” Carlos Mendoza, the brother of submarine officer Fernando Ariel Mendoza, told the AP.
“Every minute is oxygen that’s worth gold.”


Philippine police: Gunmen kill 9 people who occupied farm

Updated 18 min 5 sec ago
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Philippine police: Gunmen kill 9 people who occupied farm

  • At least two of the victims may have fired back at the attackers because spent pistol and shotgun casings were found in the area
  • The National Federation of Sugar Workers condemned the killings of its members

BACOLOD, Philippines: Gunmen killed nine members of a farmers’ group who occupied part of a privately owned sugarcane plantation in a central Philippine province, police said Sunday.
The victims were resting in a hut Saturday night when about 10 gunmen opened fire, police said. At least four farmers survived the attack at the plantation in Sagay city in Negros Occidental province, which has a history of bloody land feuds.
“There are groups fighting over that land,” Sagay police Chief Inspector Roberto Mansueto said.
At least two of the victims may have fired back at the attackers because spent pistol and shotgun casings were found in the area, Mansueto said.
“Witnesses say they heard only a few initial shots. Apparently the victims were just being threatened,” Mansueto told reporters. “But later there seemed to have been an exchange of fire.”
The National Federation of Sugar Workers condemned the killings of its members, who included four women and two minors. The group said the victims were forced to plant vegetables and root crops to feed their families on idle land that’s covered by the government’s land reform program but remained undistributed to poor farmers.
Two other peasant leaders belonging to the federation were killed in Sagay city last December and in February this year by suspected pro-government forces, the group said. It said that about 45 farmers asserting their land rights have been killed on Negros island under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.
Instead of offering an effective land reform program, Duterte’s government “red baits those who assert their rights to the land,” the group said, referring to pronouncements by civilian and military officials linking protesting farmers to communist guerrillas.
There was no immediate government reaction. Regional police chief Superintendent John Bulalacao condemned Saturday’s attack and said everything was being done to ensure the rapid arrest of the killers.
In September 1985, government forces opened fire on protesters, many of them farmers, in Negros Occidental province as they were commemorating the 1972 declaration of martial law by then-President Ferdinand Marcos. Several died in an event that left-wing activists still mark each year.