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Condolences sent to Indonesian families as all 53 sailors confirmed dead in sunken submarine

All 53 crew members of a submarine have died in Indonesia after it broke into multiple parts and sunk to the sea floor.

Wreckage from the KRI Nanggala-402 was found today on the bed of the Bali Sea at 850m, well below the depth at which it could safely operate.

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A search mission involving ships from Malaysia, Singapore and India was launched earlier this week after contact with the Indonesian navy was lost.

The navy said the diesel-powered submarine may have experienced a loss of battery power and was unable to return to the surface.

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There was only enough oxygen for the crew to survive for up to 72 hours. ‘It is possible that during static diving, a blackout occurred so control was lost and emergency procedures cannot be carried out and the ship falls to a depth of 600-700 metres,’ the FT reported.

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Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said: ‘We received underwater pictures that are confirmed as the parts of the submarine, including its rear vertical rudder, anchors, outer pressure body, embossed dive rudder and other ship parts.

‘Based on the evidence, it can be stated that the KRI Nanggala has sunk and all of its crew have died.’

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He said: ‘All of us Indonesians express our deep sorrow over this tragedy, especially to the families of the submarine crew.’

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Mr Widodo’s administration faces challenges in managing its waters from an increasingly aggressive Beijing, in particular in the South China Sea.

The submarine was carrying out a torpedo firing drill when it went missing on Wednesday. Built in West Germany in the late 1970s, it was one of five run by the Indonesian navy.

As well as the hull, search teams found fragments of a prayer mat, a bottle of periscope lubricant and a life jacket believed to have been used by crew members.

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Indonesian Navy chief of staff, Admiral Yudo Margono said the crew were not to blame. ‘The KRI Nanggala is divided into three parts, the hull of the ship, the stern of the ship,’ he said.

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‘The main parts are all separated, with the main part found cracked.’ On average submarines are able to operate at a maximum depth of 250m, according to the Submarine Institute of Australia.

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