The Federal Government has deployed rescue personnel of the Pakistan Army and other Civil-Armed Forces as 21 tourists died in Murree while trapped in their vehicles amid heavy snowfall, which blocked all routes leading in and out of the city, leaving tourists helpless on the roads.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was shocked and upset at the tragic deaths of tourists in Murree. “Unprecedented snowfall & rush of people proceeding without checking weather conditions caught district admin unprepared.” he said on Twitter. “Have ordered inquiry & putting in place strong regulation to ensure prevention of such tragedies.”
Shocked & upset at tragic deaths of tourists on road to Murree. Unprecedented snowfall & rush of ppl proceeding without checking weather conditions caught district admin unprepared. Have ordered inquiry & putting in place strong regulation to ensure prevention of such tragedies.— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) January 8, 2022
According to the reports, there are hundreds of vehicles still stranded in Murree whereas over 23,000 vehicles have been rescued. The Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said that at least all vehicles have been rescued in Guliyat, while vehicles in Guldana region are still stranded but rescue work in underway.
Roads to Murree Closed
The roads entering Murree from Rawalpindi and Islamabad have been closed to traffic until rescue operations have been carried out, said the Interior Minister. The authorities have brought in heavy machinery to clear the roads and rescue the stranded vehicles.
Read more: Murree Entrance Closed Due to Heavy Snowfall.
Cause of Death
According to reports, the tourist did not die because of cold but due to their heaters, which they used in their cars. “The fumes from the heater killed them.” said Murree Police Station SHO Raja Rasheed to Geo News. “There has been over 4 to 4.5 feet of snowfall in Murree. There has never been this much snowfall in this area.”
Statement by ISPR
In a statement issued by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) regarding the rescue operations, the army said that a Control Division has been established in Murree and rescue centers have been set up at Army Public School and Army School of Logistics in Kuldana in order to facilitate the stranded tourists.
Emergency Imposed in Murree
Meanwhile, the Punjab Government has imposed an emergency in Murree, declaring it a calamity-hit area, amid fears the death toll may increase. The Provincial Government has opened up all Government institutions in Murree and the adjoining areas for stranded tourists.
•مری اور ملحقہ علاقوں میں تمام ریسٹ ہاؤسز اور سرکاری اداروں کو سیاحوں کیلئے کھول دیا گیا ہے— Government of Punjab (@GovtofPunjabPK) January 8, 2022
•وزیر اعلی پنجاب سردار عثمان بزدار نے اپنا ہیلی کاپٹر بھی ریسکیو سرگرمیوں کے لئے دے دیا
•موسم بہتر ہوتے ہی ہیلی کاپٹر امدادی سرگرمیوں میں حصہ لے گا
The Chief Minister of Punjab, Usman Buzdar, has also donated his helicopter for the rescue operations. However, the authorities are still waiting for the weather to improve in order to use the helicopter for relief activities.