Singer-turned-evangelist Junaid Jamshed was on board Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-661, which crashed in the mountainous north of the country on Wednesday.

The airline said the PIA's ATR-42 aircraft lost contact with a control tower on its way from Chitral.

PIA spokesperson Daniyal Gilani earlier said the aircraft was missing and efforts to locate it were on. "We regret to inform that PIA's ATR-42 aircraft operating as PK-661, carrying around 40 persons, lost its contact with the control tower on its way from Chitral to Islamabad," Gilani said.

"All of the bodies are burned beyond recognition. The debris is scattered," Taj Muhammad Khan, a government official based in the Havelian region, told media.

Khan, who was at the site of the crash, added that witnesses told him "the aircraft has crashed in a mountainous area, and before it hit the ground it was on fire."

Junaid Jamshed’s brother reportedly confirmed that he, along with his wife Ayesha Junaid and daughter were on board the plane, both confirmed dead.

According to his official twitter account, Junaid Jamshed was in Chitral for a Tableeghi mission and was returning to Islamabad when the aircraft crashed. He was scheduled to deliver the Friday sermon at Parliament mosque.

In his last tweet, Jamshed posted pictures of a snow-capped mountain, calling Chitral "Heaven on Earth".

Jamshed was a prominent member of Pakistan's Tableeghi Jamaat, a global Islamic revivalist movement with an aim to urge Muslims to return to primary Sunni Islam.

Jamshed rocketed to fame in Pakistan in the 1980s and 1990s as the singer for the Vital Signs rock group, and later launched a solo career, with a string of chart-topping albums and hits.

Social media reacted to the news with horror: