Argentina’s navy said today that the search for a submarine missing since last week has been narrowed after two ships heard noises off the coast of Argentina.
Argentine ships looking for the ARA San Juan, an Argentine vessel with 44 crew members on board, picked up fairly persistent noises that were believed to have originated in an area about 225 miles east of Argentina’s Valdes Peninsula, in water believed with be about 650 feet deep, naval spokesman Enrique Balbi told reporters in Buenos Aires.
Balbi said that the navy was working to determine if the sounds came from the sub and that he hoped to know more later this evening. He did not say how many noises were heard.
Searchers are now focusing on the area where the sounds were believed to have originated, he said.
Asked if the sounds could have been made by someone banging on the inside of the San Juan’s hull, he replied that he could not say.
Earlier today, the navy said the commander of the missing sub had reported that the it was having trouble with its batteries and was experiencing an “electrical fault.”
The commander reported the issues in a satellite communication Wednesday morning, according to information from the U.S.-based satellite communications company Iridium, naval officials said.
Wednesday was the last day the San Juan made contact, officials said.
The navy raised hopes on Saturday when it said it was investigating whether seven satellite signals heard that day were from the submarine.
But today the navy said it determined that the signals were not from the vessel.
Searchers continued Monday to search an area of over 186,000 square miles in the Atlantic Ocean off Argentina where it is thought the San Juan vanished.
The submarine went missing while traveling from a base in Ushia, Argentina, on South America’s southern tip, to its home base of Mar del Plata, farther north. It was last heard from about 275 miles off the San Jorge Gulf in southern Argentina, according to the navy.
High winds and waves reaching 20 to 26 feet high hampered search efforts over the weekend and were expected to continue to pose a problem until at least Tuesday, Argentine officials said.
The Argentine navy released video showing intense waves slamming against a ship participating in the search on Sunday.
In Mar del Plata, relatives of the missing sailors congregated and waited for updates.
The false hope from Saturday’s satellite signals and the ensuing letdown today have been emotionally wrenching for some family members.
A brother of a machinist on the submarine suddenly interrupted an interview with ABC News today to say he had to tend to the wife of the machinist, Fernando Mendoza.
“I have to run,” said the brother, Carlos Mendoza. “My sister-in-law just fainted in her room in the base.”
Marcela Tagliapetra, a relative of another sailor aboard the submarine, said she felt despair.
“We are waiting for good news so we can have something to celebrate,” she told ABC News. “We are going to get it. We are sure that we are going to get it.”
Among those aboard the missing vessel is Argentina’s first female submarine officer, Eliana Maria Krawczyk.
Several nations have sent airplanes and ships to help Argentina with the search, including the U.S., which has provided several planes and unmanned underwater vehicles for the effort.
ABC News’ Joe Goldman reported from Mar del Plata, Argentina, and ABC News’ Elizabeth McLaughlin contributed reporting from Washington.