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'They Must Be Found': Russia Last Hope for Families of Lost Argentine Sub Crew

© AP Photo / Courtesy of Argentine NavyThis 2013 photo provided by the Argentina Navy shows an ARA San Juan, a German-built diesel-electric vessel, near Buenos Aires, Argentina.
This 2013 photo provided by the Argentina Navy shows an ARA San Juan, a German-built diesel-electric vessel, near Buenos Aires, Argentina. - Sputnik International
The families of the crew members of aboard the missing Argentine submarine ARA San Juan will write a letter to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin asking him to continue the search for their loved ones. Russia is part of a multinational effort to find the submarine, which disappeared last November.

The idea to write to Putin was pitched as the relatives of the missing submariners gathered at the Mar del Plata naval base on January 1, to hear the latest from Navy officials.

“We learned from the media about Putin’s interest in the fate of the San Juan and ventured to ask him to [continue the search],” Luis Tagliapietra, a member of an initiative group of relatives, told Sputnik.

“On behalf of the families and relatives of the 44 submariners we, are asking you not to call off the search operation until the San Juan has been found, even though we are fully aware of the amount of effort needed to do this and the humanitarian nature of this operation,” reads an excerpt from the letter obtained by the  Argentine news agency Telam.

An Argentine national flag with a drawing of a submarine hangs from the fence surrounding the naval base in Mar del Plata, Argentina, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017 - Sputnik International
Argentine Navy Examining New Objects at San Juan Submarine Search Area
The authors also mentioned the “uncertainty being felt by the entire Argentinean people and its fraternal nations” over the Argentine Navy’s possible decision to end their search for the missing sub.

Luis Tagliapietra said that the idea to write to Putin had been proposed by the mothers of several missing sailors, who wrote the text and collected signatures of the relatives. Tagliapietra, for his part, will hand the letter to  Russian consulate officials in Buenos Aires, who will subsequently communicate it to President Putin.

“Each day we are asking our president [Mauricio Macri] to continue the search, but the government keeps mum, ignoring us. That’s why we are asking the Russian president [to help us],” Luis said.

On December 27, the US Atlantis oceanographic research vessel left the area where the San Juan is believed to have disappeared, with Argentine naval vessels the ARA Sarandi and the ARA Islas Malvinas, as well as the Russian research ship Yantar continuing the search for the missing sub.

 “It’s been 48 days since the crew disappeared. I don’t know if they are alive or not. All I know is that we must find them. I don’t understand how, with all the technology and logistics we have today, they can’t find a 66-meter-long submarine with a crew of 44 hands on board.  They must be found, no matter what,” Tagliapietra emphasized.

The ARA San Juan, with a crew of 44, stopped responding during a routine patrol in the South Atlantic on November 15, shortly after reporting a fire on board.

READ MORE: Argentine Navy Chief Reportedly Fired After Disappearance of San Juan Submarine

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