Families of servicemen lost in the missing San Juan submarine have been told their loved ones "are all dead" after an explosion on the day the vessel disappeared, according to reports.
Family members today claimed they had already received phone calls from Navy officials telling them the entire crew had perished in a blast, believed to have taken place between 600 and 3,000 feet underneath the water.
Officially, Argentina's Navy is refusing to speculate on the fate of the sub's 44 crew members and have vowed to continue the search for the stricken vessel, according to the Daily Mail.
And they have angrily accused the Argentinian Navy of a cover up after they were today forced to confirm information that there had been a violent explosion in the area where the vessel would have been, just hours after its last transmission.
The noise "consistent with an explosion" recorded by two separate international agencies last Wednesday morning.
Luiz Tagliapietro, the father of Damian who was on the submarine, claimed a Navy official phoned him to break the news that his son was dead.
Asked if the 43 men and one woman on board had died, he said: "Yes, yes, yes, yes. One hundred per cent. My son's boss confirmed that they are all dead.
"There's no human being who survives that.'
And Itati Leguizamon whose husband German Oscar Suarez was on board, branded the Navy "perverse b******s" for allowing family members to continue to believe their loved ones could be found alive.
Man outside the Mar de Plata Naval Base wipes a tear after the navy announced a sound detected during the search for the missing ARA San Juan submarine is consistent of an explosion. (Photo / AP)
She said: "According to them, they only found out about the explosion now, but who is so stupid to believe that?
"They are a disgrace. They lied to us."
Relatives angrily accused the Argentinian Navy of a cover up after it emerged there was an explosion in the area where the vessel would have been, just hours after its last transmission.
Last night the Argentinian Navy confirmed that the US government had picked up a "hydro-acoustic anomaly" under the sea at around 11am last Wednesday just 30 nautical miles north of the stricken sub's last reported position.
Spokesman Enrique Balbi refused to speculate on what the noise could have been, but said ships were on their way to the site 450 miles off Argentina's coast to investigate.
But today they admitted there had been an explosion Argentina's ambassador to Austria, Rafael Grossi, confirmed the US version of events.
At a press conference Mr Balbi said that at around 11am last Wednesday, three hours after the last communication from the sub, 'there was an anomalous, singular, short, violent and non-nuclear event, consistent with an explosion' in the area where the vessel would have been sailing.
Mr Grossi is a member of the The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-BanTreaty Organisation which uses a network of hydroacoustic seismic stations to monitor for possible nuclear tests.
An ARA San Juan, a German-built diesel-electric vessel, near Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo / AP)
Mr Grossi reportedly reported the information to Argentina's chancellor Jorge Faurie, who called the country's defence minister, Oscar Aguad, at 10.15 this morning (local time).
Spokesman Nr Balbi said: "The two separate reports point to the same time and almost the same place.
"We do not know the cause that produced in that place, on that date, an event of those characteristics. Consequently, we will continue the search, until we find concrete evidence of where the submarine and our 44 crew members are.
He added: "We will not draw up any hypothesis about what happened until we have the conclusive evidence to affirm it."
The news provoke outrage amongst desperate family members of the missing servicemen who have been camped at the naval base in Mar de Plata hoping their loved ones will be found safe.
Now eight days since the submarine disappeared, their hope has turned to anger and despair amid reports oxygen supplies would have already run out if there was no hull breach.
Relatives of missing submarine crew member Celso Oscar Vallejo, react to the news that a sound detected during the search for the ARA San Juan submarine is consistent with an explosion. (Photo / AP)
Following today's press conference Itati Leguizamon, the wife of corporal German Oscar Suarez, raged: "They are a disgrace. They lied to us."
Luiz Tagliapietro, the father of Damian who was on the submarine, tearfully told a radio station that, despite officials refusing to confirm it, he had already been told that the crew had perished in an underwater explosion.
Weeping, he said: "They are all dead. I can't talk much. They called me 15 minutes ago to tell me that it exploded."
When asked if the crew had died, he said: "Yes, yes, yes, yes. One hundred per cent. My son's boss confirmed that they are all dead because the explosion was between 200 and 1,000 metres deep. There's no human being who survives that."
Itati Leguizamon, the wife of corporal German Oscar Suarez, claimed the Navy had tried to cover up the disaster.
She said: "They are a disgrace. They lied to us.
"According to them, they only found out about the explosion now, but who is so stupid to believe that? I´m not an expert but how come they didn't know anything about an explosion for the last eight days?"
She said that Mr Suarez had gone on another mission in the same submarine in 2014, and according to her had also got into trouble because of technical problems.
She said: "The Navy tried to cover it up. But I don't care anymore, I'm going to tell everyone because I know my husband is dead. I have a lawyer and I know my rights.
"I'm so angry because these bastards are so perverse they have kept all the families here hoping, when they knew they had all died a week ago. They said it was just a minor problem on the submarine, and now they admit there was an explosion.
"I'm trying to keep calm because my husband always me to do that. he was always ready for death, he had commended himself to God."
The Russian defence ministry said today it had sent what it called an oceanographic research vessel, the Yantar, which has been working off the western coast of Africa, on Putin's orders.
The ship "is equipped with two deep water submersibles which allow exploratory searches at a depth of up to 6,000 metres' or 20,000 feet", a statement quoted by Russian news agencies said.
Elena Alfaro, the sister of submarine crew member Federico Ibanez, waits for news with other relatives of the crew, outside the naval base in Mar del Plata, Argentina. (Photo / AP)
The Yantar is a new ship that joined the Russian navy's Northern Fleet in 2015.
Russia's involvement comes as the search for the sub, which is carrying 44 crew members, enters its eighth day with fears growing that the crew's oxygen supply could have already run out.
The ARA San Juan would have enough oxygen for its crew to survive underwater for seven days, if there was no hull breach, according to officials.
The submarine, which left Ushuaia in Argentina and was heading to the naval base in Mar del Plata, was last heard from as it sailed through the San Jorge Gulf, 450 miles from the Argentinian coast on November 15.
The 34-year-old German-built submarine had flagged a breakdown in its batteries and was ordered to return to port.
After a three hour delay to a scheduled press conference last night, Mr Balbi revealed the new information passed to them from the US government, saying: 'We're not going to leave it to chance. We are in a critical stage and going 'in crescendo' with each hour that passes.'
He said that three ships were expected to arrive at the area of ocean where the "hydroacoustic anomaly" - an unusual underwater sound detected using sonar - was heard at 11pm (local time).
U.S. Navy Lt. Lily Hinz later said the unusual sound detected underwater could not be attributed to marine life or naturally occurring noise in the ocean. She declined to speculate whether it might have been an explosion, saying experts did not know what it was.
"It was not a whale, and it is not a regularly occurring sound," Hinz said.
News of what appears to be the last chance of finding the crew alive comes as the father of one submariner spoke poignantly about how families were 'entering into despair' over finding their loved ones alive.
Luiz Tagliapietra, the father of Alejandro who is on the sub, told the Cafe de La Tade progamme on Argentina's LN+ channel yesterday of their anguished wait for news: "It's terrible, hard to find words. I can sum it up as anguished, scared, but above all impotent."
He added: "I didn't want to talk about this to the media, I felt I had nothing to say. But now we're entering into despair. I've been almost five days without sleep.
"You go from optimism to pessimism the whole day, you hear little piece of news, you grab it, but when it's discarded it's even worse. We still don't know anything. These ups and downs are killing us."
He said Alejandro was not supposed to be on this submarine mission. He said: "It was his third or fourth trip. But he was not part of the permanent crew of this submarine, he was there just by chance, he went on it of his own accord just to learn.
"He is a shy and reserved person, but always lives his life to the full and with so much passion. And in life you have to do what you love because otherwise it is meaningless. Whatever happens, I know that he was doing what he loved."
The sub's disappearance has gripped the nation, with President Mauricio Macri visiting and praying with relatives, who have had to deal with a number of false hopes since the search began on November 16.
Underwater sounds first thought to be the crew banging on the hull were later determined to be something else.
Hopes had also briefly raised yesterday morning by reports in Argentine media that a "signal" and a "heat patch" had been detected overnight, but they turned out to be false alarms.
Britain's HMS Protector had in fact spotted three flares, Navy spokesman Captain Enrique Balbi reported, and craft equipped with sonar, infra-red and magnetic detection technology had been scrambled to the zone. But a thorough search yielded nothing, he said.
The Argentine navy said a life raft that was found in the search area early Tuesday didn't belong to the submarine and likely fell off another vessel.
The false alarms have rattled nerves among distraught family members. Some have begun to complain that the Argentine navy responded too late.
"They took two days to accept help because they minimised the situation," Federico Ibanez, the brother of submarine crew member Cristian Ibanez, told The Associated Press.
The navy has said the submarine reported a battery failure before it went missing. Authorities have no specific details of the problem.
I feel like authorities let too much time pass by and decisions were taken late," Ibanez's sister, Elena Alfaro, said outside the base. "And yet, I still carry some hope."
Members of the Argentine Air Force search for a missing submarine in the South Atlantic near Argentina's coast. (Photo / AP)
A Royal Navy team is among those searching for the stricken sub, joining thousands of troops from the US, France, Germany, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Uruguay.
Families have gathered at the Naval Base in Mar del Plata as they anxiously await news of their loved ones.
Jorge Villarreal kept his eyes fixed on the ocean, hoping to catch a glimpse of the vessel that carried his son, Fernando Villareal, a submarine officer.
"As a dad I want him to be rescued immediately, but we can't forget about the inclemency of the weather. And the foreign help just doesn't come from one day to the next," he said.
"We hope this will go right because of the improving weather and the technology that's being used."
"We feel anguish. We are reserved but will not lose our hope that they will return," Marcela Moyano, wife of machinist Hernan Rodriguez, told television network TN.
'We're very worried, we have little news, we're waiting for communication,' said Eduardo Krawczyk, father of weapons officer Eliana Krawczyk, 35.
"We can make up a thousand movies with happy and sad endings, but the reality is that the days pass by and not knowing anything kills you," Carlos Mendoza, the brother of submarine officer Fernando Ariel Mendoza said.
"Every minute is oxygen that's worth gold."
Many are also taking to social media to express their worries as the search continued into a second week, including Sofi Álvarez, 21, whose brother Luis Niz, 25, is on the ARA San Juan.
She tweeted: "We are here, all united, awaiting your arrival, 44 families and a very long wait. Do not stop asking, please, do not lose faith, hope. We are not going to stop until we hug them again.
"It does not matter what god you believe in, or what you believe, I only ask that with a prayer, good vibes, good energies ask for the alive appearance of the crew of the Argentine submarine ARA San Juan, one of them my eldest brother. I'm destroyed."
Speaking to MailOnline, she added: "We always talk to him before he leaves port and he did not give us any indication of a breakdown, on the contrary, he told me that in a few days we would see each other.
"He is about to get married in a few weeks."
From the Vatican, Argentine Pope Francis said he was making "fervent prayers" for the crew, and prayers have also come from legendary footballer Diego Maradona.
"I want to send strength and hope to all the relatives of the crew of the ARA San Juan submarine,' Maradona wrote on his official Instagram account.
"I think it's great that we are receiving help from other countries with better technology. And, although I wonder about those responsible for this situation, I think that today the most important thing is to rescue our boys."
This comes after one of the crew members reportedly warned her family that there had been issues on board, just days before it vanished.
Ms Krawczyk's brother has since revealed that she called the family before they set off and told them there was a mechanical problem.
Speaking to Argentine radio and newspapers, Roberto Krawczyk has said his sister told him that the submarine had needed repairs while in port.
ARA San Juan was returning to its base in Mar del Plata after a routine mission, and left Ushuaia last Monday. Authorities lost contact with the vessel two days later.
Navy spokesman Balbi said that if the sub was settled on the surface, or able to put up a snorkel to draw fresh air, there are supplies on board to last for a month.
But if the sub is underwater - as seems to be the case after surface searches failed to find it - then there is only enough air inside to last for a week.
The craft has already been missing for seven days, and search areas indicate it is likely in deep water, meaning sending up a snorkel would be problematic.
The last known communications from the sub's crew were on Wednesday last week. One call reported a routine battery fault, while the details of the second call have not been disclosed by the navy.
Storms, seen in this video, have complicated efforts to find the navy submarine, which had gone missing in the South Atlantic.
Authorities have mainly been scanning the sea from above, as storms have made the search difficult for boats.
The Royal Navy has deployed an ice patrol ship to help search for the missing submarine.
Britain sent the HSM Protector, a polar exploration vessel, to the southern Argentine Sea to assist in searches.
Britain and Argentina fought a war in 1982 over the Falklands Islands, which are called the Malvinas in Argentina.