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AirAsia fuselage to be raised

The fuselage of the crashed AirAsia jet will be lifted to the surface after sea conditions again prevented divers from examining the large chunk of wreckage, Indonesian officials said.

National Search and Rescue Agency chief Henry Bambang Soelistyo said rescue teams had discovered more wreckage despite the strong current and poor underwater visibility.

They found what are suspected to be the cockpit and an engine of the Airbus A320 as well as passenger seats apparently with bodies strapped in.

Officials have said they believe more bodies are inside the fuselage.

One victim's body was recovered today, raising the total to 51. Flight 8501 had 162 people on board when it disappeared on December 28 en route from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore. Bad weather is a suspected factor in the crash.

Mr Soelistyo said: "Apart from the fuselage, we found what we suspected as the aircraft's cockpit and also an engine.

"We also found what seems to be a passenger seat in which we thought there still bodies tied on it."

He did not specify whether the seat was inside the 100ft fuselage section that sits on the seabed about 90ft deep.

Mr Soelistyo said the failure of the underwater examination of the wreckage left no option but to lift the fuselage, either by using floating balloons, as the tail part was lifted early this week, or using cranes from tugboats.

He did not say when the operation would start.

The plane's flight data and cockpit flight recorders were retrieved earlier this week and will be key to learning the cause of the crash.

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