India's air force chief says 19 bodies have been recovered from a steep hillside in northern India where a helicopter crashed while on a mission to rescue people stranded in monsoon floods.

Air force chief N.A.K. Browne said Wednesday that paramilitary soldiers using ropes had reached the crash site in Uttarakhand state and found the bodies of 19 people, including five air force crew members.

The helicopter crashed Tuesday, and authorities initially said eight were killed. The aircraft's rotor blades hit the hillside while returning with survivors of the flooding that has washed away thousands of homes, roads and bridges in the Himalayan state.

Troops are trying to rescue about 5,000 people who remain stranded in Badrinath town 10 days after torrential rains triggered landslides and flooding in Uttarakhand.