TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Rescuers searching for an Indonesian military (TNI) submarine that went missing with 53 people on board found an oil spill on Wednesday, April 21, near its dive location, authorities said.
The 44-year-old submarine, KRI Nanggala-402, was conducting a torpedo drill in waters north of the island of Bali but failed to relay the results as expected, a navy spokesman said.
"An aerial search found an oil spill near the submarine's dive location and two navy vessels with sonar capability have been deployed to assist the hunt," said the Defense Ministry, as quoted by Reuters on Wednesday, April 21.
A ministry statement said requests for assistance had been sent and Australia, Singapore and India had responded.
The Indonesian Navy official Julius Widjojono said he suspected the submarine had descended to a depth of 600-700 meters.
"We are still searching in the waters of Bali, 60 miles (96 km) from Bali, (for) 53 people," TNI commander Hadi Tjahjanto told Reuters in a text message. He said contact with the vessel was lost at 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
Representatives of the defense departments of Australia and Singapore did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The TNI chief will hold a media briefing to share further information about the search on Thursday from Bali, a spokesman said.
Military analyst Soleman Ponto said it is too early to determine the fate of the submarine conclusively.
"We don't know yet whether the communication pieces of equipment were broken or the submarine has sunken. We have to wait for at least three days," he said.
The 1,395-tonne KRI Nanggala-402 was built in Germany in 1977, according to the defense ministry, and joined the TNI fleet in 1981. It underwent a two-year refit in South Korea that was completed in 2012.