KABUL, Afghanistan — Rescuers scoured the mountains Friday searching for an airplane that apparently crashed near the Afghan capital with 104 people on board, including at least three Americans.
The Kam Air Boeing 737-200 disappeared from radar screens during a snowstorm late Thursday afternoon after it was denied permission to land at Kabul International Airport because of the poor weather.
NATO and Afghan rescue teams resumed their search after dawn today. The plane carried 96 passengers and a crew of eight.
"We have not found the plane and will continue our search," Lt. Col. Patrick Poulain, spokesperson for the NATO-led peacekeeping force in the country said Friday.
With fresh snow overnight Thursday and again Friday, there were fears that the wreckage could be buried and difficult to see. Hope that anyone had survived was diminishing by the hour as temperatures remained frigid.
"Search crews are having difficulty locating the plane or wreckage of the plane because the almost 50 centimeters [20 inches] of snow that fell early Friday morning could have covered the plane, making aerial search operations very difficult," said Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammed Zahir Azimi.
Azimi said more than 12 helicopter flights had been conducted Friday. Teams of Afghan national army soldiers and national police combed remote areas by foot, but their efforts were slowed by steep mountain ranges.
Afghan government officials said they were checking the list of passengers of the flight, which was traveling from the western city of Herat to Kabul. Of the 96 passengers, at least three were Americans from Management Sciences for Health, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit working on public health issues worldwide.
"Our head office has already contacted the families of our employees that were on the flight," said the organization's Kabul-based operations manager, William Schiffbauer.
The organization later posted a message on its website saying the firm was "deeply saddened ... to announce that three of its employees -- Cristin (Cristi) Gadue , Amy Lynn Niebling  and Carmen Urdaneta  -- have died after their plane crashed 35 miles outside of Kabul."
It is also believed that up to nine Turks and at least one Italian might have been on the plane.
Earlier in the day, Kam Air representatives said the aircraft had contacted Peshawar airport in northwestern Pakistan about an hour after it was turned away from Kabul late Thursday afternoon.
However, officials at the Afghan Transport Ministry said that Pakistani airport authorities had denied any contact with the aircraft and that the plane had not been carrying enough fuel to continue on to Pakistan.
Reports said that the plane also had contacted the U.S.-led coalition airbase at Bagram, north of Kabul, but had been told to talk to Kabul airport.
Kam Air is the first privately run Afghan airline and was launched in November 2003 with a fleet of five leased planes. Aviation listing services say the missing plane has had many owners in its 25 years.