18 May 2022

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Death by Snow

By : Asmatullah Kakar

At least 22 people have died after being trapped in their cars for over 12 hours under heavy snowstorm that hit Murree on Saturday as tens of thousands of visitors thronged Pakistan’s hill town, Official says.

 In an interview, some of the visitors who saved their lives claimed that the reason of the casualties was not cold weather rather Congested air space inside cars, people locked themselves inside and turned the heaters on which caused in lack of oxygen, intake of Carbon Monoxide is told to be the reason of the death.

Videos circulated on social media in which people are seen dead in stranded cars covered with the snow. In the past few days, more than 100,000 cars entered Murree, a hill station 24 miles away from Pakistan’s capital, to enjoy the snowfall, while the vehicle capacity being much lower.

In another video circulating on social media, It is seen that a girl who lost her conscious was found alive buried under the snow. Locals recovered her using shovels.

In the past 24 hours there has been heavy snowfall, and all routes leading to the Hilltown were closed due to heavy traffic, and road blockage leaving thousands of cars stranded. Number of trees fell to ground because of the storm, causing damage to vehicles as well as blocking the road leading to murree. Tourist who went there to enjoy the weather are still stuck and stranded.

Locals have provided blankets and food to the trapped, while those who could make it up to the town – which sits at 2,300 meters (7,500 feet) above sea level – have been given shelter in government and school buildings

Pak Army Triple 1 Brigade were deployed in the area to help the people suffering, while Rescue 1122 and other welfare foundations also reached out to help the victims.

 

The interior minister, sheikh Rashid Ahmed, in a video message said tourists visiting the area in large numbers for the first time in 15 to 20 years had created a huge crisis.

One man, Tayyab Gondal, shared the last voice messages he had received from his cousin Naveed Iqbal, with local media.

Iqbal is heard saying: “We are stranded in the car for 18 and 20 hours and waiting and how much more to wait. May something work out, we are really worried.”

Many tourists stranded in Murree told local media they are having issues getting food, accommodation and help.

many people on social media complained that murree Hotel and guest house owners had compounded the compulsion by price gouging hence forcing people to spend the night in their cars rather then to pay for rooms which had no services whatsoever.

The prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, tweeted: “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.”

Report : Asmatullah Kakar