December 16, 2017 / 3:35 PM / 9 months ago

Argentina fires head of navy over submarine tragedy

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina fired the head of its navy a month after a submarine disappeared in the South Atlantic with 44 crew members onboard, a government spokesman said on Saturday.

FILE PHOTO: A bouquet of flowers and banners in support of the 44 crew members of the missing at sea ARA San Juan submarine are placed on a fence outside an Argentine naval base in Mar del Plata, Argentina November 25, 2017. The banner below reads "God, give strenght to the submariners". REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

Letting go of Navy Admiral Marcelo Eduardo Hipólito Srur was the first known disciplinary action taken by President Mauricio Macri’s administration since contact was lost with the ARA San Juan on Nov. 15.

“It was decided to remove him,” a government spokesman said.

Families of the crew members criticized Macri’s government for not clearly communicating with them and for abandoning rescue efforts.

The navy said on Nov. 27 that water that entered the submarine’s snorkel caused its battery to short-circuit before it went missing. The navy had previously said international organizations detected a noise that could have been the submarine’s implosion the same day contact was lost.

Hope of rescuing survivors was abandoned on Nov. 30. The navy said it searched for double the amount of time the submarine would have had oxygen. An international search for the submarine is still underway.

Reporting by Nicolas Misculin and Hernan Nessi; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Grant McCool

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