By Ardila Syakriah and Reno Surya in Jakarta and Surabaya
The hopes of the families of the sailors aboard the Indonesian Navy’s KRI Nanggala-402 submarine were dashed at the weekend after the vessel was found in pieces on the seabed north of Bali and all 53 crew members were declared dead.
The Indonesian Military (TNI) announced it had located the submarine 838m below sea level about 1.3 kilometers south of the location from which it had made its last contact.
“With great sadness, I, the TNI commander, announce that the great soldiers of the Submarine Unit have died on duty in the sea north of Bali,” TNI commander Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said during a press briefing.
The announcement ended a four-day international search effort. Personnel from Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, India and the United States had helped scour the 10 square nautical miles believed to contain submarine.
Al Jazeera reports that the submarine – one of five in the Indonesian Navy – was found cracked apart on the seafloor.
Rescuers found new objects, including a life vest, that they believe belong to those on board the 44-year-old submarine, which lost contact as it prepared to conduct a torpedo drill.
Authorities said they received signals from the location early on Sunday and used an underwater submarine rescue vehicle supplied by Singapore to get a visual confirmation.
On Saturday, the navy said fragments of the submarine, including items from inside the vessel, had been retrieved but its location had yet to be confirmed.
Objects – including prayer mat fragments and a bottle of periscope lubricant were found near the submarine’s last known location.