At least 16 stranded snow-tourists die at Pakistan hill station

KARACHI, Pakistan, Jan.8 (Reuters) – At least 16 tourists died in cold temperatures after being stranded in their vehicles in northern Pakistan, where thousands had flocked to enjoy the snow, authorities said on Saturday.

With about 1,000 vehicles still stranded, the government declared Murree, 64 km (40 miles) northeast of the capital Islamabad, an area affected by the disaster.

“For the first time in 15 to 20 years, a large number of tourists flocked to Murree, creating a major crisis,” Pakistani Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said in a video message.

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The minister said that around 1,000 cars were stuck at the Cerro station, an elevated town in the nearby area, confirming that “there have been between 16 and 19 deaths in their cars.”

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

Late on Friday, the government announced the closure of all roads leading to the station to stop any additional influx of tourists.

Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed shock at the “tragic deaths” of tourists. “I have ordered the investigation and put in place strict regulations to ensure the prevention of such tragedies,” Khan said in a tweet.

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

The snowfall, which began Tuesday night, continued at regular intervals, attracting thousands of tourists. Due to the large number of visitors, many families ended up 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, killed in their snow-covered vehicles.

“Were the deaths caused by the cold or carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning?” Dr. Faheem Yonus, chief of infectious diseases at the University of Maryland UCH, said in a tweet. in snow, the blocked exhaust (muffler) can quickly kill passengers while breathing CO. “

Officials have not reported the causes of the deaths.

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Syed Raza Hassan Report; Edited by William Mallard

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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