A steel-hulled submarine can hold only a certain amount of breathable air. It goes faster when 53 people are crammed into the tight space.
At some point early on Saturday morning, the life force for the sailors onboard the KRI Nanggala-402, an Indonesian Navy submarine that has been missing since Wednesday, could run out.
Search crews from the United States, India, Malaysia, Australia and Singapore, along with the Indonesian Navy, have been desperately converging on the waters north of the Indonesian island of Bali, in hopes of locating the submarine and rescuing its crew.
So far, the Nanggala is nowhere to be found.
“If the rescue takes longer, the chances get smaller,” said Susaningtyas Nefo Handayani Kertopati, an Indonesian military and intelligence analyst. “The chance of survival is very small. The hope gets thinner.”
seven sailors on board a Russian Navy submarine that had gotten tangled in a fishing net were rescued just a few hours before their oxygen would have dissipated.
Russian Navy submarine, the Kursk, sank to the seabed after an explosion on board. All 118 people died after rescue teams took days to gain access to the submarine, and oxygen ran out for the 23 sailors who had survived the blast.
On Monday, an Indian ship, which is outfitted with a mini submersible that can conduct underwater rescues, should arrive in the Bali Sea to help with the search effort. If the backup air filtration system is fully operational, Indonesian defense experts said that any surviving sailors may be able to last until then.
“I am optimistic,” said Ms. Bakrie, who is friends with some of the crew on board the Nanggala. “But, again, if it’s 700 meters, forget it. Nothing can help.”
John Ismay contributed reporting.