A torn-apart sponge, prayer mats and a bottle of grease are among debris found in the search for a missing submarine, now declared sunken, with 53 people on board off the coast of Bali.
Indonesian authorities displayed recovered items believed to be from the 44-year-old KRI Nanggala-402 submarine that disappeared on Thursday at a press conference.
"With the authentic evidence we found believed to be from the submarine, we have now moved from the 'sub miss' phase to 'sub sunk'," Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Yudo Margono said on Saturday.
"Among the evidence collected from the sea surface where the submarine was reported missing include sponge from a thermal insulation sheet, a bottle of grease from inside the submarine. The sponge was torn apart from its much larger size," he said, according to The Strait Times.
Military chief Hadi Tjahjanto said the presence of an oil slick as well as debris near the site where the submarine last dove Wednesday off the island of Bali were clear proof the KRI Nanggala-402 had sunk.
Indonesian officials earlier considered the vessel to be only missing, but said the submarine’s oxygen supply would have run out early on Saturday.
“If it's an explosion, it will be in pieces. The cracks happened gradually in some parts when it went down from 300 metres to 400 metres to 500 metres. ... If there was an explosion, it would be heard by the sonar," Admiral Margono said.
Submarine likely crushed by water pressure, experts say
The navy previously said it believed the submarine sank to a depth of 600 to 700 metres, much deeper than its collapse depth of 200 metres, at which point water pressure would be greater than the hull could withstand.
The cause of the disappearance was still uncertain. The navy had previously said an electrical failure could have left the submarine unable to execute emergency procedures to resurface.
Admiral Margono said in the past two days, searchers found parts of a torpedo straightener, a grease bottle believed to be used to oil the periscope, debris from prayer rugs and a broken piece from a coolant pipe that was refitted on the submarine in South Korea in 2012.
He said rescue teams from Indonesia and other countries will evaluate the findings. He said no bodies have been found so far.
Experts say it is likely the submarine was crushed by water pressure.
"Now it'll be up to the investigators to establish the chronology of events and determine the cause. At the same time, plans would have been made to assess the feasibility of retrieving the sub at such extreme depth," Collin Koh, Research Fellow at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, said.
"It's technically possible to do it, though I believe Indonesia will have to engage foreign assistance in this."
with AP and Reuters
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com