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Worries grow about Indonesian sub's crew as oxygen dwindles

Indonesian Navy hospital ship KRI Dr. Soeharso sails during a search for submarine KRI Nanggala that went missing while participating in a training ex...
In this aerial photo taken from a maritime patrol aircraft of 800 Air Squadron of the 2nd Air Wing of Naval Aviation Center (PUSPENERBAL), the Indones...
In this aerial photo taken from a maritime patrol aircraft of the Indonesian 800 Air Squadron of the 2nd Air Wing of Naval Aviation Center (PUSPENERBA...
In this aerial photo taken from a maritime patrol aircraft of 800 Air Squadron of the 2nd Air Wing of Naval Aviation Center (PUSPENERBAL), an Indonesi...
In this photo provided by Malaysian Defense Ministry, the MV Mega Bakti submarine rescue ship departs from the Sepanggar Bay naval base in Sabah, Mala...
In this April 21, 2021, photo, the MV Swift Rescue, a submarine support and rescue vessel, leaves for Indonesia from Singapore. Indonesia's navy ships...
In this Apr. 21, 2021, photo, crew board the MV Swift Rescue, a submarine support and rescue vessel, before being dispatched for Indonesia from Singap...
Indonesian Military chief Hadi Tjahjanto, left and Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, right, are seen during a press conference concerning ...
In this Apr. 21, 2021, photo, personnel from the Republic of Singapore Navy cast off lines of the MV Swift Rescue, a submarine support and rescue vess...
Indonesian Military chief Hadi Tjahjanto, right, talks to media during a press conference regarding its missing naval submarine in Bali, Indonesia on ...
Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto talks to media during a press conference regarding a missing navy submarine in Bali, Indonesia,Thursday, ...
Indonesian military spokesperson Maj. Gen. Achmad Riad, center, talks to reporters during a press conference at the Ngurah Rai airport in Bali, Indone...

Indonesian Navy hospital ship KRI Dr. Soeharso sails during a search for submarine KRI Nanggala that went missing while participating in a training ex...

In this aerial photo taken from a maritime patrol aircraft of 800 Air Squadron of the 2nd Air Wing of Naval Aviation Center (PUSPENERBAL), the Indones...

In this aerial photo taken from a maritime patrol aircraft of the Indonesian 800 Air Squadron of the 2nd Air Wing of Naval Aviation Center (PUSPENERBA...

In this aerial photo taken from a maritime patrol aircraft of 800 Air Squadron of the 2nd Air Wing of Naval Aviation Center (PUSPENERBAL), an Indonesi...

In this photo provided by Malaysian Defense Ministry, the MV Mega Bakti submarine rescue ship departs from the Sepanggar Bay naval base in Sabah, Mala...

In this April 21, 2021, photo, the MV Swift Rescue, a submarine support and rescue vessel, leaves for Indonesia from Singapore. Indonesia's navy ships...

In this Apr. 21, 2021, photo, crew board the MV Swift Rescue, a submarine support and rescue vessel, before being dispatched for Indonesia from Singap...

Indonesian Military chief Hadi Tjahjanto, left and Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, right, are seen during a press conference concerning ...

In this Apr. 21, 2021, photo, personnel from the Republic of Singapore Navy cast off lines of the MV Swift Rescue, a submarine support and rescue vess...

Indonesian Military chief Hadi Tjahjanto, right, talks to media during a press conference regarding its missing naval submarine in Bali, Indonesia on ...

Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto talks to media during a press conference regarding a missing navy submarine in Bali, Indonesia,Thursday, ...

Indonesian military spokesperson Maj. Gen. Achmad Riad, center, talks to reporters during a press conference at the Ngurah Rai airport in Bali, Indone...

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Rescuers continued an urgent search Friday for an Indonesian submarine that disappeared two days ago and has less than a day's supply of oxygen left for its 53 crew.

The KRI Nanggala 402 went missing after its last reported dive Wednesday off the resort island of Bali, and concern is mounting the submarine may have sunk in waters too deep to reach or recover. President Joko Widodo has asked all Indonesian people to pray for the crew’s safe return, while ordering all-out efforts to locate the stricken submarine.

Two ships left a nearby port Friday morning to take part in the search. More than 20 navy ships, two submarines and five aircraft were mobilized for searches on Thursday and similar massive search operations were expected Friday.

Singaporean and Malaysian rescue ships were to arrive in the area from Saturday to Monday, and other nations have offered assistance.

“Our main priority is the safety of 53 crew members,” Widodo said in a televised address on Thursday. “To the family of the crew members, I can understand your feelings and we are doing our best to save all crew members on board.”

The submarine was expected to run out of oxygen by around 3 a.m. Saturday, navy chief of staff Adm. Yudo Margono has said.

The search has been concentrated around an oil slick found near the location of the submarine's last dive. But there's no conclusive evidence the oil was from the sub. Margono said oil could have spilled from a crack in the submarine’s fuel tank or the crew could have released fuel and fluids to reduce the vessel’s weight so it could surface.

Margono said an unidentified object with high magnetism was located at a depth of 50 to 100 meters (165 to 330 feet) and officials hope it’s the submarine.

The navy has also said it believes the submarine sank to a depth of 600-700 meters (2,000-2,300 feet), much deeper than its collapse depth — the depth at which water pressure would be greater than the hull could withstand. The vessel's collapse depth was estimated at 200 meters (655 feet) by a South Korean company that refitted the vessel in 2009-2012.

The cause of the disappearance is still uncertain. The navy has said an electrical failure could have left the submarine unable to execute emergency procedures to resurface.

In addition to the rescue ships sent by Singapore and Malaysia, offers of help have come from Australia, the United States, Germany, France, Russia, India and Turkey and South Korea.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the United States is sending airborne assets to assist in the search. “We are deeply saddened by the news of Indonesia’s lost submarine, and our thoughts are with the Indonesian sailors and their families,” Kirby said.

Submarine accidents are often disastrous.

In 2000, the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk suffered internal explosions and sank during maneuvers in the Barents Sea. Most of its 118 crew died instantly, but 23 men fled to a rear compartment before they later died, mainly of suffocation. In November 2017, an Argentine submarine went missing with 44 crew members in the South Atlantic, almost a year before its wreckage was found at a depth of 800 meters (2,625 feet).

But in 2005, seven men aboard a Russian mini-sub were rescued nearly three days after their vessel became snagged by fishing nets and cables in the Pacific Ocean. They had only six hours of oxygen left before reaching the surface.

The German-built diesel-powered KRI Nanggala 402 has been in service in Indonesia since 1981 and was carrying 49 crew members and three gunners as well as its commander, the Indonesian Defense Ministry said.

Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago nation with more than 17,000 islands, has faced growing challenges to its maritime claims in recent years, including numerous incidents involving Chinese vessels near the Natuna islands.

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Associated Press writers Hyung-in Kim in Seoul, South Korea, and Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-06-13 18:28 GMT+08:00