17 bodies of the 22 people who were on board a crashed plane were recovered by rescuers searching a mountainside in Nepal on Monday, officials said.
Airline spokesperson Sudarshan Bartaula said a search is continuing for the remaining people.
Bartaula said rescuers believe some bodies are pinned under the plane’s wreckage. Rescuers working with their bare hands have not been able to move the debris, he said.
On Sunday, the Tara Air turboprop Twin Otter lost contact with the airport tower on Sunday while flying on a scheduled 20-minute flight in an area of deep river gorges and mountaintops.
Two Germans and four Indians were on the plane, Tara Air said. The three crew members and other passengers were Nepali nationals, it said.
Villagers located the wreckage and had been searching in the area for the Yarsagumba fungus, which is commonly referred to as Himalayan Viagra, according to local news reports.
The Setopati news website quoted a Nepal villager, Bishal Magar, saying that they heard about the mission plane on Sunday but were only able to reach the site on Monday morning after following the smell of fuel.
Magar stated that it appeared the plane may have clipped the top of a smaller mountain and then slammed into a bigger mountain.
According to local news reports, the passengers included two Nepali families, one with four-member and the other with seven.
Aerial photos of the tragic crash site showed aircraft pieces scattered on rocks and moss on the side of a mountain gorge.
The army stated the plane crashed in Sanosware in Mustang district close to the mountain town of Jomsom, where it was heading after taking off from the town of Pokhara, which is 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Kathmandu.
The 43-year-old aircraft took off from Pokhara at 9:55 a.m. and transmitted its last signal at 10:07 a.m. at an altitude of 12,825 feet (3,900 meters) according to tracking data from flightradar24.com
The Twin Otter, a rugged plane originally built by Canadian aircraft manufacturer De Havilland, has been in service in Nepal for approximately 50 years, during which it has been involved in about 21 accidents, according to aviationnepal.com
The plane is prized for its durability and its ability to take off and land on short runways. Production of the planes originally ended in the 1980s. Viking Air, another Canadian company, brought the model back into production in 2010.