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Indonesia military confirms deaths of 53 aboard sunken submarine

The Indonesian navy on Sunday said the 53 crewmembers aboard the submarine that went missing last week are dead.

Last Wednesday, naval officials reported that they had lost contact with the KRI Nanggala-402 as it was preparing 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 on Sunday, according to Al Jazeera.

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“There were parts of KRI Nanggala-402  it was broken into three pieces,” Navy Chief of Staff Yudo Margono said. “The hull of the ship, the stern of the ship, and the main parts are all separated, with the main part found cracked.”

Indonesian President Joko Widodo sent out his condolences to the family members of the crewmembers on board the vessel.

“All of us Indonesians express our deep sorrow over this tragedy, especially to the families of the submarine crew," Widodo said.

The 44-year-old German-made submarine was one of five in Indonesia's fleet. Had the submarine remained intact, the crew inside would have run out of oxygen on Saturday.

The cause of the disappearance has not yet been ascertained.

As the South China Morning Post reports, this incident and the age of the vessel has brought heightened scrutiny onto Indonesia's older military equipment.

Collin Koh, a research fellow at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, told the Post that the submarine going missing had “no small part [due to] ageing military hardware, though submarine accidents can also be attributed to human factors  errors in operating the boat, or even erroneous maintenance work done on the boat while moored alongside."

Zachary Abuza, a professor of Southeast Asia studies at the National War College in Washington, D.C., told the Post that submarines do not last as long in the warmer waters in tropical climates and said Indonesia does not have a good track record of caring for its ships. According to Abuza, the last time the KRI Nanggala-402 was refurbished was in 2012.