A private plane from International Falls, Minn., with a husband and wife aboard appears to have crashed in the mountains of northwestern Washington state, and searchers were en route Wednesday afternoon to the wreckage, according to transportation officials.

The plane left Minnesota and was scheduled to arrive Saturday on Orcas Island in the Puget Sound, said Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) spokeswoman Barbara LaBoe, whose agency has been in contact with the family.

The wreckage was located Wednesday morning by WSDOT personnel about 40 miles east of Bellingham on Twin Sisters Mountain, and the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office is leading the recovery effort, said Sheriff Bill Elfo.

“We believe that it’s the plane,” LaBoe said. “It’s in the area that we were searching,” in the Cascade Range.

LaBoe declined to reveal the names of those believed aboard, who were traveling for a vacation. Family members reported them missing Tuesday, LaBoe added.

Elfo said aerial photographs show debris “is spread over a large area and no signs of human life.” He described the crash site as being “in a remote wilderness area with rugged terrain.”

Karina Einarson, office manager for Einarson Flying Service, based at the International Falls Airport, said the couple live about 30 miles south of the airport.

Einarson said they left early last week and were flying from Montana to Washington’s Orcas Island on Saturday.

Paul Walsh