Pakistan snowstorm: blizzard claims 22 lives

A tourist checks a damaged car stucked on a road following a blizzard that started on January 7 and led to visitors being trapped in vehicles along the roads to the resort hill town of Murree, some 70 Kms northeast of Islamabad. AFP
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At least 22 people, including 10 children, died in a popular mountain resort town in Pakistan after being stuck in their vehicles during a heavy snowstorm.

Most of the victims died of hypothermia. Officials said.

Locals, who were caught in the blizzard in Murree, questioned the weather conditions, according to them, they had not received any kind of warning from the government, Google, or even the news.

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Blizzard in Pakistan’s Murree

The mountain-perch town — 70 kilometres northeast of Islamabad — has long been a favourite for tourists, who swarmed to see vistas dusted with fresh snowfall this week.

Unfortunately, a blizzard hit the town on Friday, causing trees to fall down, blocking roads in and out of the town just north of the capital.

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Members of Pakistan’s Army take part in a rescue operation in a heavy snowfall-hit area in Murree, north of the capital Islamabad. AP

In the nearby town of Nathiagali, the blizzard dumped up to 1.5 metres of snow within just a few hours.—According to Tariq Ullah, an official

“It was unprecedented, There were strong winds, uprooted trees, avalanches. People around were terrified.”—he told AFP news agency.

The extreme weather conditions caused roads to be blocked and around 1,000 cars became stranded.

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47-year-old tourist Kashif Ishaq was quoted as saying to AFP “People here were literally weeping… when they heard,”

Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was shocked and upset by the tragedy, but that the unprecedented snowfall and rush of people “caught district admin unprepared”. The Prime Minister Added.

Roads cleared

In a statement made by Punjab police 24hrs later, all roads in and around the resort had been cleared but incoming traffic to the resort was still not allowed.

Army members take part in a rescue operation in a heavy snowfall-hit area in Murree,. AP

Over 700 vehicles were pulled from the snow and the remaining stranded tourists were taken to safety. Most were taken to one of five military-run relief camps and provided with medication and hot meals. Police said.

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authorities have promised an investigation

According to Pakistan Newspapers, the country’s weather bureau had issued a warning as early as 6 January of the approaching blizzard.

“All concerned authorities are particularly advised to remain ‘ALERT‘ during the forecast period,” the National Weather Forecasting Centre had said on Thursday, adding “heavy snowfall” could cause road closures in Murree and elsewhere.

Reacting to the outpouring of grief, authorities have promised an investigation.

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Hasaan Khawar, spokesman for the Punjab provincial government, said in a video on his Twitter page Sunday. “Our first priority was rescue, which is ongoing, then relief,”

“Then a high-level inquiry will be launched and if there is any kind of negligence, then action will be taken against all those involved.” He added

Tweet by Hasaan
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