Indonesia looking for missing submarine with 53 aboard

The Indonesian Navy submarine KRI Nanggala takes part in a drill off Cilegon, Indonesia, in this Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017 photo. Indonesia's navy is searching for the KRI Nanggala submarine that went missing north of the resort island of Bali with a number of people on board, the military said Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (AP Photo)

Indonesia’s navy ships are intensely searching the waters where one of its submarines was last detected before it disappeared with 53 people on board, as neighboring countries are set to join the complex operation.

An oil spill where the vessel was thought to have submerged early Wednesday during regular exercises could point to damage, the navy has said, fanning fears that the Southeast Asian nation may be the latest country to suffer a fatal submarine disaster.

Indonesia’s military said that five navy ships and a helicopter were taking part in the search while a hydro-oceanographic survey ship equipped with underwater detection capabilities is on its way to the site around the oil spills. Officials said they had not yet been linked to the missing submarine.

Neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia have already dispatched rescue ships that are expected to arrive in the coming days, said military spokesman Achmad Riad.

There were 53 crew aboard the vessel, which was believed to be in waters about 700 metres deep.