Umm Muhammed Umar
In Pakistan, at least 16 people have frozen to death after having been trapped inside their vehicles in heavy snow. This followed tens of thousands of tourists descending on the hill town of Murree to see the snowfall. Murree reportedly attracts over a million tourists annually.
The Minister of Interior, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, on Saturday said that at least 16 to 19 people had died inside their vehicles. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s military has been mobilised to clear roads leading to the city, and rescue people who are still trapped. Because of the large number of tourists, many ended up becoming stranded on the roads. According to Al Jazeera, about 100 000 vehicles headed to the hill station, which has narrow roads.
Eight of the reported 16 fatalities were from the family of an Islamabad police officer, who also died of hypothermia. Pictures show vehicles buried under heaps of snow, after more than 1.2 metres of heavy overnight snowfall. Even the heavy equipment brought in to clear the snow was initially stuck due to the snowfall.
Currently, only emergency and rescue vehicles and those bringing food for the stranded, are being allowed on the roads to Murree. Food and blankets are also being distributed.
Murree has been declared a “disaster area” and people have been instructed to stay away. al Jazeera reports that social media videos showed entire families, including children, dead in their snow-covered vehicles.