Police told reporters they believed the plane had exploded upon impact and were convinced there were no survivors.
The head of Norway’s Armed Forces, Harald Sunde expressed his sorrow over the news that the crew of the Hercules, which lost radio and radar contact shortly before 3pm on Thursday afternoon, had perished in the crash.
“It is with great sadness that we note that we have now lost five of our valued colleagues,” he told Norwegian state broadcaster NRK, adding that his thoughts were with the crew members’ loved ones.
Rescue efforts were called off around 5.30pm on Saturday evening, said Börje Öhman, spokesperson for the Norbotten County police.
The decision was taken after dogs found human body parts near the crash site on Mount Kebnekaise, Sweden’s highest peak.
“It took place in consultation with the Norwegian authorities and relatives in Norway have also been informed of the decision,” he said.
Police are convinced that all five crew members died in the crash.
“There’s no doubt this is the right aircraft; we found the flight plan used by the captain for this trip,” said Öhman.
“The accident commission says that when a plane of this size flies into a mountain face, like this one has done, it probably explodes, which probably also happened in this case.”
The explosion that is believed to have taken place when the Hercules slammed into the mountain set off an avalanche, and it was in the avalanche area where the body parts were found.
Thousands of pieces of debris from the crashed Norwegian cargo plane have been found in the area, both on the east and west sides of the Kebnekaise Massive at an altitude of 1,500 metres and above.
Work also continues to gather more facts about the flight and what may have led the aircraft, which was flying from Evenes in northern Norway to Kiruna in the far north of Sweden as part of a military training exercise, to crash into the side of the mountain.
“There are two scenarios. One is that we have all the data – the black box as it’s called. If so, we may not be as reliant on the accident site. The other is that we have sparse data and then we have to document the site very thoroughly,” accident investigator Agne Widholm from the Swedish Accident Investigation Authority (Statens haverikommission – SHK), told the TT news agency.
“In that case we may not really be able to begin working in earnest until May when the snow has melted.”
Swedish accident investigators are working together with experts from the Norwegian Air Force and Norway’s accident investigation agency.
So far, a total of 20 people, including seven Swedes, are involved in the probe into the fatal crash of the Hercules.
The crashed aircraft is a C-130 J “Super” Hercules transport plane manufactured by Lockheed Martin in the United States.
The plane is one of four C-130 Js ordered by the Norwegian air force in 2007, the first of which was delivered in November 2008.