The pings were detected over an area spanning from 1 km to 4 kms from the location of the jet's rear.

"It was detected within a wide area, which needs to be combed by divers," said Nurcahyo Utomo, an official with Indonesia's National Commission for Transportation Safety.

It was not clear whether the pings were from black box of the Airbus A320-200. The development came a day after the tail of the doomed AirAsia jet was lifted out of the choppy waters of the Java Sea using inflatable balloons yesterday.

The black box, crucial for unravelling the mystery of the crash, was not found inside the section nearly two weeks after the tragedy.

The 10-metre-long metal chunk, with the words "AirAsia" clearly visible across it, became the first major wreckage lifted off the seabed.

Similar "pings" were also detected on Friday and efforts to retrieve the tail section - where the black box is located - were stepped up.

The recorders are important because they should contain the pilots' final words and possibly various flight data.

Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501 lost contact with ground control on December 28, less than half way into a two-hour flight from Indonesia to Singapore and crashed possibly due to bad weather.

In his last communication, the pilot said he wanted to change course to avoid a storm. Then all contact was lost.

Only 48 bodies, including at least two strapped to their seats, have been found in the choppy waters.

Indonesia's Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan assured the search to find the still untraced bodies would be funded by the State budget and the efforts would continue no matter how long it would take.

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