MURREE, Pakistan: The severe cold weather and snowfall have left 16 to 19 tourists dead in the mountainous resort of Murree while the help of civil armed forces has been sought to evacuate the stranded tourists.
In a video statement on Saturday, the Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said that all routes heading towards Murree have been closed as already more than 100,000 vehicles have entered Murree and Galiyat causing gridlocks and enormous difficulties for the entrants.
— Sheikh Rashid Ahmed (@ShkhRasheed) January 8, 2022
The minister told that the administration of Rawalpindi and Islamabad put in untiring efforts to deal with the situation; however, a huge influx of tourists had already been witnessed in Murree, Galiyat, and Barian making it difficult for them to clear the roads.
Sheikh Rashid told that now all roads towards Murree have been blocked and they have decided to seek the undeclared help of the civil armed forces.
List of Murree Tragedy Victims
The interior minister said that he is himself supervising relief and evacuation activities and also asked the locals to come forward for the help of stranded tourists who are in dire need of blankets and food.
The minister said that the roads will remain closed till 9:00 pm on January 9, and hoped that the situation would be under control by today evening.
اسلام آباد سے مری جانے کے راستے کل سے بند کر دئے گئے ہیں۔ سب سے گزارش ہے کہ آج اور کل مری کے لئے مت جائیں۔ پابندی کے باوجود لوگ آج ہزاروں کی تعداد میں آئے اور انہیں واپس بھیجنا پڑا۔ 🙏🙏
— Office of Deputy Commissioner Islamabad (@dcislamabad) January 8, 2022
Murree declared a disaster area, emergency enforced
Calling Murree a disaster area, the Punjab government had declared an emergency there.
Over 23,000 vehicles rescued evacuated from Murree last night
The Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar said that he has directed all agencies in Murree to expedite the process of rescue and evacuation of citizens and vehicles stranded in the snow and to send more machinery and relief goods from Rawalpindi.
Usman Buzdar said that more than 23,000 vehicles were rescued and evacuated from Murree last night.
مری کےعلاقوں میں تمام اداروں کو برف میں پھنسے شہریوں اور گاڑیوں کو ریسکیو کرنے اور بحفاظت علاقے سے نکالنے کے عمل کو تیز کرنے اور راولپنڈی سے مزید مشینری اور امدادی سامان بھجوانے کےاحکامات دئیےہیں
گزشتہ رات 23 ہزار سے زائد گاڑیاں علاقے سے نکالی گئیں اور یہ ریسکیو آپریشن جاری ہے
— Usman Buzdar (@UsmanAKBuzdar) January 8, 2022
Murree Expressway Opened
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) has said that Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) dozers and army engineers have opened Murree Expressway.
The ISPR said that Pakistan Army has established 4 camps at Military College Murree, Jhika Gali, APS Kuldana, Station supply Depot Sunny Bank.
It said that all resources at the disposal of the Murree Division in terms of engineers machinery are being mobilized.
The ISPR father said that a Control Division has been established at Murree Division.
It said that Rescue Centres has been established at Army Public School (APS) and Army School of Logistics Kuldana, and all Camps have been provided with heating arrangements.
The ISPR said that heavy machinery from Murree, Army Engineers Division and FWO are working without any pause to assist people who are struck. It said that where machinery can’t reach, troops have been moved and they are clearing traffic and opening roads.
In a statement, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that “Shocked & upset at tragic deaths of tourists on road to Murree. Unprecedented snowfall & rush of people proceeding without checking weather conditions caught district admin unprepared. Have ordered inquiry & putting in place strong regulation to ensure prevention of such tragedies.”
The Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif said that “What a massive tragedy Murree is turning out to be! Heartbroken to learn about the loss of so many precious lives. My profound condolences & sympathies are with the bereaved families. May Allah rest the departed souls in peace!”
Meanwhile, according to the Pakistan Meteorological Department, more widespread rain with snowfall over the hills is expected in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Islamabad, Upper and Central Punjab, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Kashmir during the next 12 hours.