Murree declared calamity as 21 tourists frozen to death

Web Desk:

Murree was declared calamity hit on Saturday after at least 21 people froze to death in their vehicles stranded in snow amid a glut of tourist influx.

Punjab government has imposed an emergency in the region, declaring it a calamity-hit area, amid fears the death toll may increase.

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Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has ordered the government guest houses in the area to give refuge to the stranded tourists. 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. Moreover, entry of cars into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Gailyat was banned.

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The federal government has deployed the personnel of the Pakistan Army and other civil-armed forces for rescue operations after tourists died in their vehicles in Murree due to heavy snowfall in the hill station. All the routes in Murree were blocked after thousands of vehicles entered the city, leaving the tourists helpless on the roads.

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Emergency has been declared in all the important departments including police, administration, Rescue 1122, and hospitals, Radio Pakistan reported. According to a list issued by Rescue 1122, 21 people died, including nine children.

Talking to Geo TV, SHO Murree Police Station Raja Rasheed said: “There have been over 4 to 4.5 feet of snowfall in Murree. There has never been this much snowfall in this area.” He said that most of the people who died in Murree did not die due to the cold, they died as they left their heaters on in the car and went to sleep. “The fumes from the heater killed them.”

In a video message, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Saturday said Murree had “seen a huge number of tourists after 15-20 years”, and due to that, a crisis took place.

The Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said at least all vehicles have been rescued in Guliyat, whereas the vehicles in the Guldana region are still stranded that would be rescued soon. All types of traffic entering Murree from Rawalpindi and Islamabad has been banned till the end of the rescue operations, he added.

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The minister said heavy machinery has been called in to clear the roads and the help of the civil armed forces and the military has been sought to rescue the stranded tourists. The authorities have decided to use helicopters for rescue operations as well after the weather clears, he added.

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