A missing Indonesian submarine has been found, broken into at least three parts, at the bottom of the Bali Sea, army and navy officials said on Sunday, as the president sent condolences to relatives of the 53 crew.
Rescuers also found new objects, including a life vest, that they believe belong to those aboard the 44-year old KRI Nanggala-402, which lost contact on Wednesday as it prepared to conduct a torpedo drill.
“Based on the evidence, it can be stated that the KRI Nanggala has sunk and all of its crew have died,” military chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto told reporters.
Navy chief of staff Yudo Margono said the crew were not to blame for the accident and that the submarine did not experience a blackout, blaming “forces of nature”.
“The KRI Nanggala is divided into three parts, the hull of the ship, the stern of the ship, and the main parts are all separated, with the main part found cracked,” he said. “There are scattered parts of the submarine and its interior in the water.”
President Joko Widodo earlier confirmed the discovery in the Bali Sea and sent the families of the victims his condolences.
“All of us Indonesians express our deep sorrow over this tragedy, especially to the families of the submarine crew.”
A sonar scan on Saturday detected the submarine at 850 metres (2,790 feet), far beyond the Nanggala’s diving range.
More than a dozen helicopters and ships are searching the area where contact was lost, with the United States, Australia, Singapore, and Malaysia providing assistance.
Navy officials said international help will be crucial in recovering the remains of the vessel.
Singapore Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean wrote on social media late on Sunday that a ROV (remotely operated vehicle) sent by the Singapore Navy was able to “recover a few critical items from the seabed at depth of more than 800 meters”.
“We hope that this will help the families find some closure and certainty on the fate of their loved ones,” he added.
Search teams said on Saturday they had found objects including prayer mat fragments near the submarine’s last known location, leading the navy to believe the vessel had cracked.
Indonesia police said it would deploy teams to Bali and the Java town of Banyuwangi, which hosts the naval base from where the main search and recovery operations are being conducted, to help identify the victims once the bodies are retrieved.
Residents of Banyuwangi joined nationwide calls to accelerate the modernisation of Indonesia’s defence forces.
“This can be a learning point for the government to advance its military technology and be careful in how it uses its (existing) technology because its people’s lives are at stake,” said 29-year old resident Hein Ferdy Sentoso.
Southeast Asia’s most-populous country has sought to revamp its military capability, yet some equipment is still old and there have been fatal accidents in recent years.
Indonesia had five submarines before the latest accident: two German-built Type 209s including Nanggala and three newer South Korean vessels.
35 killed in Gaza, 5 in Israel, as violence escalates
Hostilities between Israel and Hamas escalated on Wednesday, with at least 35 killed in Gaza and five in Israel in the most intensive aerial exchanges for years.
Israel carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Gaza into Wednesday morning, as the Islamist group and other Palestinian militants fired multiple rocket barrages at Tel Aviv and Beersheba.
One multi-story residential building in Gaza collapsed and another was heavily damaged after they were repeatedly hit by Israeli air strikes.
Israel said its jets had targeted and killed several Hamas intelligence leaders early on Wednesday. Other strikes targeted what the military said were rocket launch sites, Hamas offices and the homes of Hamas leaders.
It was the heaviest offensive between Israel and Hamas since a 2014 war in Gaza, and prompted international concern that the situation could spiral out of control.
U.N. Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland tweeted: “Stop the fire immediately. We’re escalating towards a full scale war. Leaders on all sides have to take the responsibility of de-escalation.
“The cost of war in Gaza is devastating & is being paid by ordinary people. UN is working w/ all sides to restore calm. Stop the violence now,” he wrote.
Gazans homes shook and the sky lit up from Israeli attacks, outgoing rockets and Israeli air defence missiles intercepting them. At least 30 explosions were heard within a matter of minutes just after dawn on Wednesday.
Israelis ran for shelters or flattened themselves on pavements in communities more than 70 km (45 miles) up the coast and into southern Israel amid sounds of explosions as interceptor missiles streaked into the sky.
In the mixed Arab-Jewish town of Lod, near Tel Aviv, two people were killed after a rocket hit a vehicle in the area. Lod and other mixed towns have been gripped by angry demonstrations over the Gaza violence and tensions in Jerusalem.
Hamas’s armed wing said it fired 210 rockets towards Beersheba and Tel Aviv in response to the bombing of the tower buildings in Gaza City. Israel’s military says that around a third of the rockets have fallen short, landing within Gaza.
For Israel, the militants’ targeting of Tel Aviv, its commercial capital, posed a new challenge in the confrontation with the Islamist Hamas group, regarded as a terrorist organisation by Israel and the United States.
The violence followed weeks of tension in Jerusalem during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, with clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in and around Al-Aqsa Mosque, on the compound revered by Jews as Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.
These escalated in recent days ahead of a – now postponed – court hearing in a case that could end with Palestinian families evicted from East Jerusalem homes claimed by Jewish settlers.
Violence has also flared in the occupied West Bank, where a 26-year-old Palestinian was killed by Israeli gunfire during stone-throwing clashes in a refugee camp near the city of Hebron.
‘A VERY HEAVY PRICE’
There appeared no imminent end to the violence. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that militants would pay a “very heavy” price for the rockets, which reached the outskirts of Jerusalem on Monday during a holiday in Israel commemorating its capture of East Jerusalem in a 1967 war.
The outbreak of hostilities led Netanyahu’s political opponents to suspend negotiations on forming a coalition of right-wing, leftist and centre-left parties to unseat him after an inconclusive March 23 election.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid has three weeks left to establish a government, with a new election – and another chance for Netanyahu to retain power – likely if he fails.
The Arab League, some of whose members have warmed ties with Israel over the last year, accused it of “indiscriminate and irresponsible” attacks in Gaza and said it was responsible for “dangerous escalation” in Jerusalem.
Hamas named its rocket assault “Sword of Jerusalem”, seeking to marginalise Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and to present itself as the guardians of Palestinians in Jerusalem.
The militant group’s leader, Ismail Haniyeh, said Israel had “ignited fire in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa and the flames extended to Gaza, therefore, it is responsible for the consequences.”
Haniyeh said that Qatar, Egypt and the United Nations had been in contact urging calm but that Hamas’s message to Israel was: “If they want to escalate, the resistance is ready, if they want to stop, the resistance is ready.”
The White House said on Tuesday that Israel had a legitimate right to defend itself from rocket attacks but applied pressure on Israel over the treatment of Palestinians, saying Jerusalem must be a place of coexistence.
The United States was delaying U.N. Security Council efforts to issue a public statement on escalating tensions because it could be harmful to behind-the-scenes efforts to end the violence, according to diplomats and a source familiar with the U.S. strategy. State Department spokesman Ned Price urged calm and “restraint on both sides”, saying: “The loss of life, the loss of Israeli life, the loss of Palestinian life, It’s something that we deeply regret.”
He added: “We are urging this message of de-escalation to see this loss of life come to an end.”
PLUMES OF BLACK SMOKE
Israel said it had sent 80 jets to bomb Gaza, and dispatched infantry and armour to reinforce the tanks already gathered on the border, evoking memories of the last Israeli ground incursion into Gaza to stop rocket attacks in 2014.
More than 2,100 Gazans were killed in the seven-week war that followed, according to the Gaza health ministry, along with 73 Israelis, and thousands of homes in Gaza were razed by Israeli forces.
Video footage on Tuesday showed three plumes of thick, black smoke rising from a 13-story Gaza residential and office block as it toppled over after being demolished by Israeli airstrikes.
The Israeli military said the building, in Gaza City’s Rimal neighbourhood, housed “multiple” Hamas offices, including ones for military research and development and military intelligence.
The existence of one Hamas office, used by political leaders and officials dealing with the news media, was widely known locally.
Residents in the block and the surrounding area had been warned to evacuate the area before the airstrike, according to witnesses and the Israeli military.
A second residential and office building in the same neighbourhood was heavily damaged in Israeli attacks shortly before 2 a.m. on Wednesday. Residents and journalists working in the building had already left.
On Tuesday Gaza health ministry officials put the death toll at 32, but a Hamas-affiliated radio station later said three more people, including a woman and a child, were killed shortly before 2 a.m. on Wednesday in an Israeli airstrike on an apartment above a restaurant.
Israeli political leaders and the military said they had killed “dozens” of militants, and hit buildings used by Hamas.
Defence Minister Benny Gantz said Israel had carried out “hundreds” of strikes, and that “buildings will continue to crumble.”
Gaza’s health ministry said that of the people reported dead, 10 were children and one was a woman.
Israel’s Magen David Adom ambulance service said a 50-year-old woman was killed when a rocket hit a building in the Tel Aviv suburb of Rishon Lezion, and that two women had been killed in rocket strikes on Ashkelon.
Palestinian rocket fire, Israeli strikes in Gaza run into second day
Palestinians fired uninterrupted barrages of rockets into Israel, as its military pounded Gaza with air strikes through the early hours of Tuesday, in a dramatic escalation of clashes in Jerusalem, Reuters reported.
Explosions shook buildings throughout Gaza and rocket sirens sent Israelis in many southern towns scurrying for shelter overnight. Two Palestinians were killed and more than 100 wounded in air strikes, Palestinian officials said.
Six Israelis were wounded by a rocket, medics said.
Nine children were among the 20 dead in Gaza on Monday and scores of rockets were launched into Israel, many that were intercepted by missile defences, Reuters reported.
The events were unleashed by Gaza militants firing on the Jerusalem area for the first time since a 2014 war, crossing what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a “red line”.
Reuters reported the upsurge in violence came as Israel celebrated “Jerusalem Day”, marking its capture of East Jerusalem in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
The escalation began with confrontations at Al-Aqsa Mosque in the heart of the walled Old City on the compound known to Jews as Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary – the most sensitive site in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
The Palestine Red Crescent Society said more than 300 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli police, who fired rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas in the compound. Police said 21 officers were hurt in the skirmishes.
Although the trouble died down after a few hours, there were other focal points of tension, such as the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem just north of the Old City, where several Palestinian families face eviction from homes claimed by Jewish settlers in a long-running legal case, Reuters reported.
Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls Gaza, set an evening deadline for Israel to remove its police from Al-Aqsa and Sheikh Jarrah. When it expired, sirens wailed in Jerusalem and rockets pounded the city’s outskirts.
Israel views all of Jerusalem as its capital, including the eastern part annexed after the 1967 war in a move that has not secured international recognition.
Palestinians want East Jerusalem for the capital of a state they seek in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad militant group claimed responsibility for the rocket fire on Jerusalem.
Tension had been building for weeks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, amid clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters prompting international concern that events could spiral out of control.
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