The tail end of the business commuter plane apparently tore a path into a forest before boring into the ground and catching fire as the plane broke apart. Two 61-year-olds and a 56-year-old – all residents of Offenbach – were killed near the Egelsbach airfield outside of Frankfurt.
Police said there had been heavy fog when the plane travelling from the northern city of Bremen crashed at 4:15 pm, but they were not sure whether this played a role in the accident.
Officers were forced to give up their search around midnight on Monday after combing through wreckage that spread for several hundred metres, they said, and resumed their search at daylight. Search dogs were also used in their effort.
After the crash fire fighters put out flames on parts of the two-motor Beechcraft 90 model plane, but did not immediately locating the crash victims.
The German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Investigation (BFU) has undertaken an investigation into the cause of incident.
Egelsbach is Germany's largest private airfield and is often used by business travellers and hobby pilots.