The tail of the AirAsia plane was on Saturday retrieved from the Java Sea by Indonesian investigators searching for the black box crucial to solve the mystery of the deadly crash.
The tail was hoisted from a depth of about 30 metres, using inflatable bags and then a crane was used to lift it on to a rescue ship.
It was not immediately clear if the cockpit voice and flight data recorders were still inside the tail or had detached when the Airbus A320 crashed on December 28 en route to Singapore from Surabaya with 162 people on board.
“Last night, our divers had opened the door of the tail cabin, searched around but found nothing,” said S B Supriyadi, a director with the national search and rescue agency.
Divers were also sent to investigate underwater pings that may be coming from the flight recorders.
Searchers spotted the tail section -- where the black box is located -- 30 kilometre from the plane’s last known location on Wednesday, a day after divers joined the multi-national hunt. Officials say the black box could have been separated from the rear part of the plane.
The black box contains the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder, crucial to determine the cause of the crash.
The search operation is being coordinated by Indonesia’s national search and rescue Agency and involves the military, police, and transportation ministry.
Forty-eight bodies have been retrieved so far. Search teams believe most of the remains may still be inside the fuselage of the plane, which has yet to be found.
The search and rescue team also retrieved a composite piece from near the aircraft’s wing on Friday, said AirAsia QZ8501 investigator Nurcahyo of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee.
Autopsies carried out on several victims have revealed impact injuries such as broken legs, but no burns. Air-safety experts said that means there likely wasn’t any fire or explosion that tore through the plane on its way down, and the jet probably hit the water at a shallow angle.
Image: Part of the tail of AirAsia QZ8501 floats on the surface after being lifted as Indonesian navy divers conduct search operations for the black box flight recorders and passengers and crew of the aircraft, in the Java Sea Photograph: Adek Berry/Pool/Reuters