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AirAsia QZ8501 Data Recorder Recovered

Indonesian navy divers have retrieved the flight data recorder from AirAsia flight QZ8501 that crashed two weeks ago, killing all 162 people on board.

"At 7:11, we succeeded in lifting... the flight data recorder," Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo, the head of the National Search and Rescue Agency, told reporters at a news conference.

The cockpit voice recorder has been located, based on pings from its emergency transmitter, but not yet retrieved, Madjono Siswosuwarno, the main investigator at the National Transportation Safety Committee said.

Officials hope the data recorders, found near the wrecked wing of the plane, will reveal the cause of the crash. The national weather bureau has said seasonal storms were likely a factor.

The recorders are expected to be taken to the capital, Jakarta, for analysis and it could take up to a month to get a complete reading of the data. Officials did not provide details of the condition of the boxes.

"The download is easy, probably one day. But the reading is more difficult... could take two weeks to one month," Siswosuwarno said.

Over the weekend, three vessels detected pings that were believed to be from the recorders, but strong winds, powerful currents and high waves hampered search efforts.

Dozens of Indonesian navy divers took advantage of calmer weather in the Java Sea on Monday to retrieve the flight recorder and search for the fuselage of the Airbus A320.

Forty-eight bodies have been retrieved from the Java Sea and searchers believe more will be found in the plane's fuselage.

Relatives of the victims have urged authorities to make finding the remains of their loved ones the priority.

"All the ships, including the ships from our friends, will be deployed with the main task of searching for bodies that are still or suspected to still be trapped underwater," Soelistyo said, referring to the multinational force helping with the search and recovery effort.

(Reuters)