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Rescuers raising the tail of AirAsia Flight QZ8501

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SURABAYA, Indonesia (CNN) — Onlookers clapped as an underwater balloon started heaving a submerged tail section of AirAsia Flight QZ8501, which went missing over the Java Sea.

Divers had found the tail on Wednesday, and on Friday, divers investigated pings a search ship had detected.

They lowered ropes and slings down to the tail and planned to inflate giant airbags or balloons underneath to lift the tail from the bottom of the sea. A crane will raise the section out of the water.

The plane, an Airbus A320-200, normally houses the flight data recorders in the tail, and there is hope that they are still there. The information they hold is key to the investigation into what happened to the flight that took off from Surabaya, Indonesia, for Singapore on December 28 with 162 people on board.

The plane’s pilot had asked to change course and climb to a higher altitude minutes before contact was lost, according to Indonesian officials.

The pings

Before Friday, searchers hadn’t reported detecting any possible pings from the locator beacons from the black boxes. It was unclear whether the devices remained inside the tail or had come free.

Batteries that send out the pings last 30 days. It has been 13 days since the AirAsia plane fell into the sea.

Caution surrounds the possible pings, because something else could be causing the sound. In the case of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, several signals raised hopes of locating the missing plane, but proved to be false leads.

48 bodies recovered

A total of 48 bodies have been recovered so far from the sea, Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said Friday.

The vast majority of the people on AirAsia QZ8501 were Indonesian. There were also citizens of Britain, France, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.

CNN’s Brad Olson, Madison Park and journalist Intan Hadidjah contributed to this report.

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