At least 21 people died on Saturday when their cars got stuck on snowy roads leading to the popular tourist city near Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. Soldiers rescued people from at least 24,000 vehicles stuck in heavy snow near the town of Murree, officials said. Other snow-covered drivers and their passengers were given blankets and food. “Where equipment cannot reach, troops have been deployed, they are clearing traffic and opening roads,” the Pakistani military said in a statement. Rescuers said the victims were found dead in their vehicles, some of whom may have died from carbon monoxide poisoning overnight. Among those killed was a family of four daughters and two sons, all under 15. Heavy snowfall in Murree and the northern regions of Pakistan was predicted by the country’s meteorological department no later than January 5 and was part of a wider cold wave affecting the region, including the Indian side of the Himalayas. Officials blamed the crash on a large number of tourists who did not take weather forecasts into account. But government critics say local authorities are ill-prepared to handle the annual influx and unprepared for emergencies. Murree, a rural mountain town 21 miles northeast of Islamabad, is a popular tourist destination that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, and Prime Minister Imran Khan personally promotes tourism in the area. A few days ago, Fawad Chaudhry, Pakistan’s information minister, praised the large influx of tourists, stating that 100,000 vehicles had entered Murree. But on Saturday, Mr. Chaudhry reached out to people to cancel their travel plans because the local authorities could not serve such a large number of people. And when the disaster struck, the prime minister appeared to have accused the tourists of negligence.
Sharing is Caring!