Story highlights

A flash flood over the weekend swept away houses and people

At least 17 people have died and as many as 47 remain missing

The search for survivors continues, but the chance of finding them is shrinking

Three Ukrainian hikers are among the missing

Kathmandu, Nepal CNN  — 

Rescue workers continued their search Monday for survivors from a flash flood in central Nepal that swept away houses over the weekend, killing at least 17 people and leaving as many as 47 missing.

The authorities are using sniffer dogs to try to find the missing people and excavators to clear debris, said Sailesh Thapa, police superintendent of Kaski District where the flooding occurred.

The flooding took place near the Annapurna range of mountains, a part of the Himalayas popular among hiking enthusiasts. Three Ukrainian trekkers are among the missing.

The likelihood of finding any survivors is diminishing quickly, though. Thapa said Sunday that the chance of finding any of the missing people was “extremely minimal.” Of the 17 bodies recovered, only 12 have been identified, he said.

He was speaking from the rescue operations center in Pokhara, Nepal’s second largest city, which is situated about 200 kilometers (124 miles) west of Kathmandu.

A recent landslide had blocked the snow-fed Seti Gandaki River at the foot of the Annapurna mountains, building up pressure from the collected water. The rubble in the river’s path eventually gave way, releasing a torrent of water Saturday that washed away two small settlements of about 17 houses downstream.

The Ukrainians had been trekking in the mountains and had stopped for the night at a riverbank lodge in one of the settlements, according to Thapa.

There is a heightened risk of avalanches and rock slides in the area at the moment as the snow melts.

People lined the edge of the river Sunday, watching debris being swept downstream. Police officers stood watch at various points, apparently looking for bodies in the water.

CNN’s Alex Zolbert in Pokhara contributed to this report.