Indonesian divers have retrieved the cockpit voice recorder from beneath the wreckage of an AirAsia plane that crashed into the Java Sea as the airline's boss vowed to overcome the "toughest times" he has known.
It came a day after the plane's other black box, the flight data recorder, was recovered, and the devices should provide investigators with vital information about what caused the accident.
Flight QZ8501 went down on December 28 in stormy weather as it flew from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore with 162 people on board.
Just 48 bodies have so far been recovered, with many believed to be in the main section of fuselage, which has not yet been found.
Indonesia's meteorological agency has said that the bad weather likely caused the Airbus A320-200 to crash, but a definitive answer is impossible without the data recorders.
Rescuers faced a lengthy, difficult search often hampered by bad weather but a key breakthrough came at the weekend when they finally detected "ping" signals from the black boxes.
On Tuesday, an official involved with the search, who requested anonymity, confirmed that the cockpit voice recorder "has been found and lifted from the sea". The official added that the device had been taken to the navy ship Banda Aceh.
The flight data recorder monitors information such as airspeed, while the cockpit voice recorder stores radio transmissions and sounds in the cockpit. Both are located near the rear of the plane and designed to survive underwater.
Meanwhile, Indonesian officials disagree on whether the jet exploded before it hit the water.
A director with Indonesia's search and rescue agency told Sky News analysis of the plane's wreckage suggested it had broken apart mid-air because the cabin could not adapt to the pressure change caused by the steep descent.
However an investigator at the National Transportation Safety Committee told SBS News there was "no data to support that kind of theory".
The accident is the first major setback for Malaysia-based AirAsia, which has enjoyed a 13-year run of success.
But its boss, Tony Fernandes, pledged on Tuesday that the airline would overcome the crisis.
"Rest assured, we are committed to reviewing and improving our products and services. We are more focused than ever to provide you with nothing but the best," he said in a message.
"Even in our toughest times, we will continue to be the world's best and be better for you."
Officials have said they believe the flight data recorder is in good condition and it has already been flown to Jakarta.
Indonesia's National Transport Safety Committee said the boxes would undergo a lengthy analysis in the capital, with the help of a team of experts, including from France and aeroplane manufacturer Airbus.
The committee has said a preliminary report on the accident will be produced within a month, and a final report after a year.
Officials on Monday revealed dramatic new details of the accident, saying a rapid change in pressure caused the plane to "explode" as it hit the water.
"It exploded because of the pressure," said SB Supriyadi, a director from the search and rescue agency.
"The cabin was pressurised and before the pressure of the cabin could be adjusted, it went down - boom. That explosion was heard in the area."
Forty-eight bodies have been recovered so far, but the weather has hampered efforts to locate all the victims and the wreckage.
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source: newshub archive