Saturday, August 13, 2022

22 dead due to cold trapped in cars in heavy snow in Pakistan resort

ISLAMABAD (AP) – Temperatures dropped to minus 8 degrees Celsius (17.6 Fahrenheit) in Pakistan’s mountainous resort town of Muri amid heavy snowfall overnight, killing at least 22 people who were trapped in their vehicles, officials said. said on Saturday.

Atiq Ahmed, a police officer in Islamabad, said that out of the 22 killed, eight were from the family of fellow police officer Naveed Iqbal, who also died. Officials said most of the victims died of hypothermia.

Rescue services doctor Abdur Rahman said after all the stranded tourists were evacuated from their cars, the death toll rose to 22, including 10 men, 10 children and two women.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said thousands of vehicles had been pulled from the snow but more than a thousand remained stranded in the area on Saturday.

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Located 28 miles (45.5 kilometers) north of the capital of Islamabad, Murree is a popular winter resort that attracts more than a million tourists annually. In winter the roads leading to the city are often blocked by snow.

Interior Minister Ahmed said more than 4 feet (1.2 m) of snow fell in the area overnight and all oncoming traffic was blocked on Saturday. The minister said paramilitary forces and a special military mountain unit have been called in to assist.

“Till then no vehicles or even people on foot are allowed to enter the mary, except emergency and rescue vehicles and those bringing food for the stranded,” he said.

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Local administrator Umar Maqbool said heavy snowfall hampered rescue operations during the night and heavy snow-clearing equipment also initially got stuck.

Officials did not provide further details about those who died in their icy vehicles, but said they were working on both recovery and rescue operations. Maqbool said that food and blankets were distributed to the tourists stranded in the night.

Most of the roads leading to the resorts in the area were largely cleared of snow later on Saturday, but some work was still being done, Maqbool said. Military soldiers and machines were working to clear all the roads and the army set up relief camps in army-run schools that provided shelter and food.

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