At the very last minute, two sailors did not board the Argentinian submarine that has been lost in the South Atlantic for nine days now.
For different reasons, Humberto Vilte and Adrián Rothlisberger did not board the submarine with the 44 other crew members, according to O Globo, a Brazilian newspaper.
Vilte was allowed to skip the mission after he learned that his mother had been hospitalized, O Globo reported. Known by his friends as “Beto,” Vilte was not only given permission to leave, but the navy also paid for his trip back home, according to Argentinian newspaper Clarín.
Since the submarine’s disappearance, Vilte changed his profile picture to an image of the ARA San Juan shield with a black ribbon, Clarín reported.
Rothlisberger was released from the trip after he had fulfilled a series of tasks for his boss, his mother said, according to O Globo. He avoided the trip in “a matter of seconds,” Sandra Álvares said.
Álvares told Radio Dos that it is a “miracle” that her son did not board the submarine.
“Keep praying,” she said.
Both men have reportedly traveled back to Mar del Plata, a coastal city in Argentina, where loved ones have gathered to await news of the submarine’s fate.
The Argentinian navy said Thursday an explosion occurred near the time and place where the sub went missing on Nov. 15, causing some loved ones to give up hope that the crew will be rescued. Navy officials worry that even if the submarine is still intact, the crew might be running out of oxygen.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.