The tail section of the AirAsia flight that went down on December 28 was found on Wednesday in the Java Sea, raising hopes that the plane's black boxes might soon be recovered to determine the cause of the mysterious crash.
"We have found the tail that has been our main target today," Bambang Soelistyo, the head of Indonesia's search and rescue told reporters in Jakarta as the search operation entered its 11th day.
"The tail part has been found and confirmed at a position in our second priority sector."
The tail is the section where the black boxes are located. The black boxes are often considered the key piece of evidence when it comes to investigating a commercial plane disaster. They provide valuable information, from a plane's air speed to the position of the landing gear, to pilot communications.
Soelistyo said divers were preparing to go back underwater in the same area, which is in one of the priority zones where search efforts have been focused.
Searchers have been scouring the choppy waters of the Java Sea for remains from the commercial jet since it lost contact on December 28 with 162 people on board.
AirAsia group chief executive Tony Fernandes confirmed the announcement in a post on his Twitter account.
"I am led to believe the tail section has been found. If right part of tail section then the black box should be there," he tweeted.
"We need to find all parts soon so we can find all [our] guests to ease the pain of our families. That still is our priority."
The Flight QZ8501 plunged into the water off Borneo island about 40 minutes into a two-hour flight from Indonesia's second-biggest city Surabaya en route to Singapore. No survivors have been found.
Forty bodies have been recovered so far but authorities believe most of the passengers could still be inside the main body of the plane.
The search area was widened on Wednesday with the establishment of two new sectors, said Chief of the Malaysian Navy Abdul Aziz Jaafar.
Underwater current was still strong of around 4-5 knots and the visibility was still limited for the sea divers on Tuesday to identify more findings from the seabed where the plane crashed.
At the weekend search officials said sonar had detected what they thought were five large parts of the plane, but strong currents and rough seas would not allow divers to confirm they were from the AirAsia flight.