Thursday, Oct 06, 2022

22 People Including Children Freeze To Death In Pakistan's Murree As Heavy Snowfall Traps Cars

The Pakistan government had reportedly warned tourists to avoid visiting the Murree in anticipation of heavy snowfall.

Cars stranded in Pakistan's Murree following heavy snowfall. AP

At least 22 people including 10 children have reportedly frozen to death in stranded vehicles, which were trapped in heavy snowfall in Pakistan's picturesque hill station Murree in Rawalpindi district.

Murree, in the Punjab province, was witnessing a tourist influx and thousands of cars had entered the hill station, 24 miles away from Karachi, to enjoy the snowfall. The Pakistan government had reportedly warned tourists to avoid visiting the hill station in anticipation of the natural calamity. Earlier, the Pakistan Meteorological Department had predicted heavy snowfall in Murree and Galiyat from January 6 to 9.

Due to heavy snowfall, all routes leading to the hill station were closed causing all cars to remain stranded.  In addition to this, due to too much traffic, the government was forced to close the road from Islamabad to Murree. 

Around 1,000 cars were stuck on the road.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said that a sudden rush of tourists to the spot almost after 15 to 20 years created a crisis and the Pakistan Army has been called to the spot to help with the situation.  

"As many as 1,000 vehicles have been stuck since night. Some have been evacuated; 16-19 deaths took place in cars. The locals provided food and blankets to the stranded people," Rashid said.

Taking cognisance of the situation, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his shock. "Shocked and upset at tragic deaths of tourists on road to Murree. Unprecedented snowfall and rush of ppl proceeding without checking weather conditions caught district admin unprepared. Have ordered an inquiry and putting in place strong regulation to ensure prevention of such tragedies (sic)," Khan said on Twitter. 

After tourists were reported to be stranded, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar instructed to expedite the rescue operation and ordered a state of emergency in hospitals and police stations. 

The Punjab government has banned tourists from visiting the hill station citing that this is not the season to visit the place. Murree has been declared as a calamity-hit area.

As per directives, government offices and rest houses have been instructed to open up for stranded tourists.