At least 16 stranded snow tourists die at Pakistan mountain resort


KARACHI, Pakistan, Jan.8 (Reuters) – At least 16 tourists have died in freezing temperatures after being stranded in their vehicles in northern Pakistan, where thousands of people had flocked to take advantage of the snow, said on Saturday responsible.

With some 1,000 vehicles still stranded, the government said Murree, 64 km (40 miles) northeast of the disaster area capital Islamabad.

“For the first time in 15 to 20 years, so many tourists have flocked to Murree, which has created a great crisis,” Pakistani interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said in a video message.

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The minister said about 1,000 cars were stranded in the hill station, a hilltop town in the nearby area, confirming that “16-19 deaths occurred in their cars.”

Platoons of the army and paramilitary forces have been deployed to assist the civilian administration in the rescue operations, he said.

On Friday evening, the government announced the closure of all roads leading to the station to stop any further influx of tourists.

People stand next to cars stuck under fallen trees on a snow-covered road in Murree, northeast Islamabad, Pakistan, in this still from a January 8, 2022 video. PTV / REUTERS TV via REUTERS

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Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was shocked by the “tragic deaths” of tourists. “Ordered an investigation and put strict regulations in place to ensure the prevention of such tragedies,” Khan said in a tweet.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry called on people not to visit the hill station.

Snowfall, which started Tuesday evening, continued at regular intervals, drawing thousands of tourists. Due to the large number of visitors, many families found themselves stranded on the roads.

Local media reported that more than 100,000 vehicles entered the hill station.

Videos shared on social media showed entire families, including children, lying dead in their snow-covered vehicles.

“Were the deaths caused by the cold or carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning?” Said Dr. Faheem Yonus, chief infectious disease officer at the University of Maryland UCH, in a tweet. “CO is odorless, deadly if an idling car is buried. in snow, the blocked exhaust (muffler) can quickly kill passengers as they breathe in CO. “

Authorities have not given any word on the causes of the deaths.

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Reporting by Syed Raza Hassan; Editing by William Mallard

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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