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Distress calls detected ‘from missing sub’

ARA San Juan
Image: The ARA San Juan with 44 crew aboard has been missing since Wednesday

Rescuers searching for a missing Argentinian naval submarine are trying to pinpoint the location of emergency signals thought to be from the vessel.

Seven failed satellite calls were received on Saturday, Argentina’s defence ministry said, raising hopes that the 44 crew members on board ARA San Juan were trying to re-establish contact.

The UK, US, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay have joined the search operation for the submarine, which disappeared 268 miles off Argentina’s southern Atlantic coast on Wednesday.

Claudio Rodriguez, whose brother Hernan is on board the submarine, said the satellite signals suggested the vessel was still afloat and would be found.

ARA San Juan submarine
Image: The vessel may be suffering from a communications error

“They’ve got to be afloat. Thank God,” he said.

“That gives us hope, because we knew that if they were down below, they would be screwed.”

A spokesman for Argentina’s defence ministry said it was “working to pinpoint the exact location of what is emitting the signals”.

It is thought the vessel, which has food and oxygen supplies for several days, may be suffering from a communications error.

The Royal Navy has deployed HMS Protector, an ice patrol ship, to help in the search.

HMS Protector is helping in the search for the ARA San Juan
Image: HMS Protector is helping in the search for the ARA San Juan

Sky’s Defence Correspondent Alistair Bunkall said Britain also has a C-130 Hercules, which is stationed in the Falklands Islands, on standby if required.

A second US Navy aircraft has joined the search, while two underwater crafts designed to rescue trapped submarine sailors at different depths are being deployed.

A remotely operated underwater robot known as an ROV is also being used.

Argentinian President Mauricio Macri wrote on Twitter: “We will do what is necessary to find the submarine as soon as possible.”

Image: The submarine had set off from Ushuaia in Argentina’s region of Patagonia

Relatives of the missing sailors have gathered at a naval base in Mar del Plata, where the submarine had been destined to arrive before vanishing, awaiting news.

Maria Morales, the mother of one crew member told journalists, told reporters: “We’re hopeful this will end soon to remain only as a bad memory.”

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    Far-right party to enter Austrian government

    Heinz-Christian Strache
    Image: The FPO’s Heinz-Christian Strache is tipped to be deputy chancellor

    Austria is set to become the only western European country with a far-right party in government.

    The head of the conservative People’s Party (OVP), Sebastian Kurz, has struck a coalition deal with the far-right Freedom Party (FPO).

    The FPO will take charge of the foreign, interior and defence ministries, among others, while its leader, 48-year-old Heinz-Christian Strache, will be deputy chancellor.

    Mr Kurz, 31, will be the youngest leader in Europe. His OVP will run ministries including finance and justice.

    When the OVP won Austria’s election on 15 October it did so with a hard line on immigration – a policy which often overlapped with that of the FPO.

    The FPO was third, taking 26% of the vote.

    “Nobody has anything to fear,” said the FPO’s secretary general and Austria’s next interior minister, Herbert Kickl.

    Sebastian Kurz
    Image: Sebastian Kurz says he wants to increase security and combat illegal immigraton

    Mr Kurz held a joint news conference with Mr Strache and told reporters: “Our aims are quite clear.

    “We want to ease the tax burden for people, we want to strengthen our economy, which will bolster our social system.”

    Mr Kurz, known as ‘wunderwuzzi’ or ‘whizz-kid’, added: “And first and foremost we want to increase security in our country, including by combating illegal immigration.”

    While Mr Kurz has said his administration will be pro-European, both he and Mr Strache have expressed doubts about further social integration.

    Sebastian Kurz
    Image: Mr Kurz, 31, is Europe’s youngest leader

    The two men presented their agreement to Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, a former Greens leader who narrowly beat the FPO in a presidential vote in 2015.

    Mr Van der Bellen, who has the right to reject ministers, has said a new government could be sworn in early next week if everything went to plan.

    Following their meeting, Mr Van der Bellen said they had agreed it was in Austria’s “national interest” to remain at the “centre of a strong European Union”.

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    The FPO’s success mirrors that of similar parties across Europe. Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party is now the second-largest in the Netherlands, the Front National in France was involved in a run-off for the presidency in May and representatives from Germany’s AfD have entered the Bundestag.

    When the FPO was last in government, under the late Joerg Haider, other EU countries imposed sanctions on Vienna in protest.

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