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Specialists in salvage work at sea warn of the risks of using Navy divers in an area as complex as the Drake Pass.
This Thursday from the FACh, in the voice of its commander in chief, General Arturo Merino Núñez, it was reported that it is “practically impossible for there to be survivors” in the accident that affected the Hercules C-130 aircraft.
Airplane with which contact was lost in the Drake Pass, a complex zone in terms of climate, since the sea temperature ranges between 0ºC and -25ºC during the year . The Drake Pass , also called the Drake Sea, is the maritime region that divides Antarctica from the southernmost part of South America and is also the epicenter of the search for the Chilean Hercules C-130 aircraft with 38 people.
Strong winds, poor visibility and strong currents are some of the characteristics of the maritime area of around 800 kilometers where the Pacific and Atlantic oceans meet, making complex the rescue work carried out by the Chilean Navy personnel and the Armed Forces that collaborate in the operation.
“Any diving activity is impossible”
With regard to work on the high seas, specialists flatly rule out using search divers to find the whereabouts of human remains, as well as parts of the wrecked aircraft.
In conversation with T13.cl, Daniel Malfanti , tactical diver (r) of the Chilean Navy , and technical diving instructor, said that in the accident area there are “extremely adverse conditions , with waves between six to twelve meters high” , so sending a search dive team would be very risky for the staff.
To this is added that the depth of 3 thousand meters makes it unfeasible that the work of a diver can be a real contribution to the search and rescue.
The Navy has trained personnel and instruments only to descend to 100 meters deep, “therefore, thinking about diving possibilities is useless, there is no capacity for a diver to go down,” complements the instructor, since it would not be reached to a place to perform an exploration that results.
Given this, the former uniformed officer, who sailed and provided rescue services in Antarctica as an active seaman, said that “its average weather conditions and winds make any diving activity impossible , and in the worst case it does not work, because you are going to go down 200 meters, and the depth is 3 thousand. You have to discard it. “
In the same line, the specialist is emphatic: when launching a diver into the water there is a 70% chance of being lost, since the environmental conditions are very changing and moving to a calm sea, you can start to have waves of 4 6 meters away “and there you lose it to the diver “.
” To get to the seabed you can get off with a robot, ” adds the specialist, indicating that work could be done with these devices before the remains of the aircraft are found.
However, it is a robotic equipment that is not available in Chile and “are shortages in the world,” says Malfanti, so you must trust and work under the eaves of the sonar with which the ship Cabo de Hornos is equipped which has the maritime authority working on the search for the remains.
How deep do civilians dive?
As for diving for civilians, Alejandro Soza, technical diving instructor at ODC Diving , details that for those without experience there is a standard of a maximum depth of 12 meters and 100% assisted, with an instructor no more than 1 arm away .
While for certified divers the depths “have to do with their level of training, ranging from 18 meters, to 40 meters with a specialty in deep diving “, since those who do not have this certification, can only reach up to 30 meters .
Health risks on the rise
Soza also details the risks that exist if there is no promotion with all safety regulations.
” We have an amount of gas in our body , which is diluted and we need to remove before going to the surface. The only way to do it is through breathing, so the logic has to do with the person having to breathe more that the meters that ascends, to give the organism time to eliminate my saturation, “he says.
If the proper handling is not carried out, “the risk of compressive diseases or a barotrauma opens automatically. A diver is a bottle of agitated soda ,” exemplifies Soza.