Buenos Aires (AFP) – Argentina announced a $5 million reward Wednesday for information leading to the recovery of the missing submarine San Juan, which disappeared without a trace in the South Atlantic in November with the loss of 44 crew.
The defense ministry said the reward will be granted “to those persons who provide information and useful data that will allow us to find the whereabouts and precise location of the submarine.”
President Mauricio Macri’s center-right government said it is seeking to “generate adequate incentives” for private companies to participate in the ongoing search with the Argentine navy.
At the peak of search operations in an area off the Argentine coast, more than a dozen countries provided military assets, oceanographic vessels and planes.
Macri told victims’ families about the reward in a meeting on February 7, though the amount still had to be fixed.
The families have long pleaded with the government to increase resources and expand the search area.
The navy has been fiercely criticized for its handling of the operation since first reporting the submarine overdue at its base in Mar del Plata on November 16.
It was only several days later that the navy acknowledged the San Juan had reported a problem with its batteries in its final communication on November 15.
Even later the navy said there had been a likely devastating explosion on board, which experts said was probably linked to the battery problem.
Macri’s government sacked naval chief Admiral Marcelo Srur and several top naval officials over the disaster, and opened an inquiry to determine what happened and who ultimately bears responsibility.