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AirAsia Flight 8501 Tail Lifted to Sea Surface in Black Box Hunt

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Investigators searching for black boxes in the crashed AirAsia plane lifted the tail portion out of the Java Sea on Saturday, two weeks ago after it went down, killing all 162 people on board. It was not immediately clear if the cockpit voice and flight data recorders were still inside the tail or have been detached when the Airbus A320 plummeted into the sea Dec. 28.

Their recovery is essential to finding out why it crashed. The tail was hoisted from a depth of about 100 feet using inflatable bags that were attached to the rear of the aircraft and a crane to lift it onto a rescue ship. Intermittent underwater ping-like sounds were picked up Friday about a half mile from where the tail was located, but it was unclear if they were coming from the recorders located in the back of the aircraft.

The discovery of the tail on the ocean floor earlier this week was a major breakthrough in the slow-moving search that has been hampered by seasonal rains, choppy seas and blinding silt from river runoff.

Four additional bodies were recovered Friday — two of them still strapped in their seats on the ocean floor — bringing the total to 48.

Image: AirAsia flight QZ8501
Part of AirAsia flight QZ8501 is lifted onto a Crest Onyx ship as navy divers conduct operations to search for black boxes of the aircraft in the Java sea on Jan. 10.PRASETYO UTOMO / Pool via AFP - Getty Images

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