21 tourists freeze to death in snowstorm in Pakistan’s mountainous Murree town resort


MURREE, JANUARY 8: At least 21 people, including children, died after they got trapped for hours inside their vehicles following a heavy snowstorm in Pakistan’s Murree mountainous resort town on Saturday.

Pakistan’s Punjab province officials have declared Murree town as a calamity-hit region.

According to Pakistan news agency The Dawn, at least nine among those dead were children.

Around 1,000 cars were stuck on the hill station while the Punjab chief minister issued instructions for expediting rescue work and providing aid to the stranded tourists, it said, adding the entry of cars into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Gailyat region has been banned by officials.

The announcement regarding the death toll came from Pakistan interior minister Sheikh Rasheed, who in a video message, said that Murree saw unprecedented tourist footfall which may have contributed to the incident.

The Pakistan army is carrying out rescue operations with the locals. Five platoons of the Pakistan Army and the police officials of Rawalpindi and Islamabad along with Rescue 1122 officials are present in the town and are carrying out rescue operations.

Locals are also spearheading rescue efforts and according to the report by the Dawn, some locals also expressed hope that they will be able to rescue tourists stuck in cars by evening. The report also highlighted that the locals were supplying blankets and warm food to tourists stuck in the snowstorm.

Murree is 70 kilometres northeast of Islamabad. The Punjab province government urged people to stay away due to the snowstorm. Punjab province chief minister Usman Buzdar said that evacuating the stranded tourists was his first priority. The Punjab province government said that it has opened rest houses and state buildings for the tourists stuck in the snowstorm.

Netizens on Twitter have shared several images and videos where a large number of vehicles were seen stuck in Murree with many claiming that the town may have been ill-equipped to tackle the large number of tourists.