The Argentine navy said Thursday that a possible explosion had been heard in the ocean not long after one of its submarines went missing with 44 people aboard.
The ARA San Juan, which had 44 crew members on board, was last heard from November 15 and officials feared that it would run out of oxygen soon.
The ARA San Juan disappeared November 15, and the Argentine navy described the explosion that followed near the sub's location as "anomalous, short, violent".
Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said relatives of the crew members have been told about the development and the search will continue until the fate of the crew is known.
Mr Balbi added there was no sign the explosion was linked to any attack on the vessel.
Balbi said Wednesday that Argentine navy ships as well as a U.S. P-8 Poseidon aircraft and a Brazilian air force plane would return to the area to check out the sound, which originated about 50 kilometres north of the submarine's last registered position.
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It follows a United States report of a loud noise in the same area.
More than a dozen ships and planes are involved in the multinational search, with search teams combing an area of some 185,000 square miles, roughly the size of Spain.
Mr Balbi told reporters a "hydro-acoustic anomaly" was detected in the ocean nearly three hours after the last communication with the vessel on November 15, 30 miles north of its last known position.
A huge sea and air hunt is being conducted for the San Juan, a German-built, diesel- and electric-powered submarine that was launched in 1983.
Relatives of the crew who had gathered at the Mar del Plata base broke into tears and hugged each other after they received the news.
The submarine had been travelling from Ushuaia, the world's southernmost city, to Mar del Plata when it reported an electrical problem just before it vanished.