The Indonesian navy is searching for a submarine that has gone missing off the coast of Bali with 53 people on board.
The military said it was searching the “deep” waters after losing contact with the vessel on Wednesday.
“The KRI Nanggala 402 lost contact early this morning,” said First Admiral Julius Widjojono.
“(The navy) is currently searching for it. We know the area but it’s quite deep.”
The German-made submarine had been conducting a torpedo drill in waters off the northern coast of Bali but failed to relay results as expected, a navy spokesman told Reuters.
Indonesia’s military chief Hadi Tjahjanto told AFP that neighbours Singapore and Australia had been asked for help. He said there were 53 crew aboard the vessel, which was believed to be in waters about 700 metres deep.
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The military chief told Reuters that contact with the submarine was lost at around 4.30am local time. He said Indonesia’s navy had dispatched warships to the area and they were searching for the submarine in waters 96 kilometres to the north of Bali.
Some reports said that contact was lost after the submarine had been given clearance to dive into deeper waters.
“The worst nightmare for a submariner is when you hear about a boat gone missing,” wrote former Indian navy submariner Ashok Bijalwan. “Praying for early return of KRI Nanggala-402 with all 53 safe and secure.”
The 1,395-tonne submarine was built in Germany in 1978 and underwent a two-year refit in South Korea that was completed in 2012, according to the Indonesian cabinet secretariat’s website.
Indonesia once had a fleet of 12 submarines purchased from the Soviet Union to patrol its waters, but now has just five, including two German-built Type 209 submarines and three newer South Korean vessels.
The country has been working to upgrade its defence capabilities but some of its equipment is ageing and there have been deadly accidents involving military transport planes in recent years.
— With AFP