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Indonesia navy says lost sub has sunk

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Indonesia’s navy says items have been found from a missing submarine, indicating the vessel with 53 crew members has sunk and there is no hope of finding survivors.

Navy chief Yudo Margono says rescuers found several items from the KRI Nanggala 402, which disappeared after its last reported dive Wednesday off Bali, including parts of a torpedo straightener, a grease bottle believed to be used to oil the periscope and prayer rugs.

“With the authentic evidence we found believed to be from the submarine, we have now moved from the ‘sub miss’ phase to ‘sub sunk’,”‘ Margono said at a news conference on Saturday in Bali, where the found items were displayed.

Officials had previously said the submarine’s oxygen supply would have run out early Saturday. Indonesia had considered the submarine that disappeared Wednesday off the island of Bali as just missing.

An American reconnaissance plane, a P-8 Poseidon, landed early Saturday and was set to join the search, along with 20 Indonesian ships, the sonar-equipped Australian warship HMAS Ballarat and four Indonesian aircraft.

Singaporean rescue ships were also expected later Saturday, while Malaysian rescue vessels were due to arrive Sunday, bolstering the underwater hunt, Indonesia military spokesperson Djawara Whimbo said earlier on Saturday.

He had said Indonesia’s hydrographic vessel was still unable to detect an unidentified object exhibiting high magnetism that was earlier detected located at a depth of 50-100 metres.

There had been no signs of life from the submarine but family members held out hope the massive search effort would find the vessel in time.

“The family is in a good condition and keeps praying,” said Ratih Wardhani, the sister of 49-year-old crewman Wisnu Subiyantoro. “We are optimistic that the Nanggala can be rescued with all the crew.”

Indonesian President Joko Widodo had ordered all-out efforts to find the submarine and asked Indonesians to pray for the crew’s safe return.

The search focused on an area near the starting position of its last dive where an oil slick was found but there was no conclusive evidence so far the oil slick was from the sub.

Margono, the navy chief, had 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.

The navy however, believes the submarine sank to a depth of 600-700m, much deeper than its collapse depth of 200m, at which water pressure would be greater than the hull could withstand.

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.

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

By Edna Tarigan and Fadlan Syam in Banyuwangi for Australian Associated Press.

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