Cold kills 16 caught in automobiles in heavy snow at Pakistan resort

Deceased embrace eight members of the identical household after their automobiles have been submerged in snow, officers say.

At least 16 individuals froze to demise after heavy snow trapped them of their automobiles as tens of hundreds of holiday makers thronged Pakistan’s hill city of Murree.

The army was mobilised to clear roads and rescue individuals nonetheless trapped, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed mentioned in a video message on Saturday, including: “At least 16 to 19 people died inside their vehicles.”

Atiq Ahmed, an Islamabad police officer, mentioned eight of the 16 fatalities have been from the household of fellow Islamabad police officer Naveed Iqbal, who additionally died. All 16 died of hypothermia.

Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed shock over the “tragic deaths” of the vacationers. “Have ordered inquiry and putting in place strong regulations to ensure prevention of such tragedies,” Khan mentioned in a tweet.

Located about 50km (22 miles) north of the capital, Islamabad, Murree is a well-liked winter resort that draws nicely over a million vacationers yearly. Streets main into town are sometimes blocked by snow in winter.

Videos shared on social media confirmed whole households, together with kids, mendacity useless of their snow-covered automobiles.

Pakistan Meteorological Department (PDM) said that a strong westerly wave was affecting most parts of the country and may persist until 09 JanuaryPakistan Meteorological Department mentioned a robust westerly wave was affecting most elements of the nation and should persist till Sunday [Inter Services Public Relations via EPA-EFE]

Heavy snow warnings

Snowfall, which started on Tuesday evening, continued at common intervals, attracting hundreds of vacationers. Because of the large numbers of holiday makers, many households ended up getting stranded on roads.

“This is an example of systemic failure because according to reports, about 100,000 vehicles headed to the hill station, one that has narrow roads,” mentioned Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder, reporting from Islamabad.

“There were warnings of heavy snow and that led to a total catastrophe because people were stuck in their vehicles, entire families. Their vehicles were buried under heaps of snow.”

Ahmed, the inside minister, mentioned greater than 1.2 metres (four ft) of snow fell within the space in a single day and all incoming visitors was blocked on Saturday. The minister mentioned paramilitary troops and a particular army mountain unit had been known as in to assist.

“Until then no vehicle or even people on foot are allowed to enter Murree except for the emergency and rescue vehicles and those bringing food for the stuck people,” he mentioned.

Umar Maqbool, an area administrator, mentioned the heavy snowfall hampered rescue efforts in the course of the evening and even heavy gear introduced in to clear the snow obtained caught initially.

Officials gave no additional particulars about those that died of their caught automobiles however mentioned they have been engaged on each restoration and rescue operations. Food and blankets have been distributed to the stranded vacationers.

The Punjab province chief minister’s workplace mentioned Murree had been declared a “disaster area” and urged individuals to remain away.A map showing Murree, about 50km north of Pakistan's capital, Islamabad.

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