"In total, we have found 46 bodies out of the 162 passengers of the plane,"  an Indonesian rescue official is quoted as saying.

He noted that the three bodies found by the Japanese ships JS Katanami and JS Onami have already been transported to a hospital in the Kalimantan province of Indonesia's Borneo island.

The AirAsia flight with 162 people -- 155 passengers and seven crew members -- went missing soon after taking off from Indonesian city of Surabaya for Singapore on December 28.

Earlier in the day, signals from the plane's Black Box were detected. Seven divers have been deployed to check the signals and confirm its position.

Indonesia's national search and rescue agency Bambang Soelistyo said the search operation would focus on lifting up the plane's tail section, discovered Wednesday as partially buried in the seabed, 30 metres underwater.

Indonesia AirAsia, 49 percent owned by the Malaysia-based AirAsia budget group, has come under pressure from the authorities in Jakarta since the crash.

The transport ministry has suspended the carrier's Surabaya-Singapore licence, saying it only had permission to fly the route on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Flight QZ8501 took off on a Sunday, though the ministry said this had no bearing on the accident.

While the cause of the crash is not known, the national weather bureau has said seasonal tropical storms common in the area were likely to be a factor.

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