Murree: 22 dead as heavy snowfall blocks road to hill station in Pakistan | World news

At least 22 people have died after being stranded in their vehicle when temperatures dropped to -8C (17.6F) during heavy snowfall in Pakistan.

Eight of the 22 people who died at the resort town of Murree were from the family of a police officer who also died, another policeman from Islamabad said.

The cause of death in most cases was hypothermia, officials said.

Soldiers clear snow from road after heavy snowfall in Murree

So far, 10 men, 10 children and two women are known to have died.

Thousands of vehicles had to be removed from the snow, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said, but more than a thousand were still stranded in the region on Saturday.

Videos posted online showed cars struggling to stay on the road away from the station in blizzard conditions.

Murree, 45 km north of the capital Islamabad, is visited by more than a million people each year. The roads leading to the city are often blocked by snow in winter.

It was founded in colonial times as a ‘hill station’ where British administrators could escape the heat of the plains, but has since grown into a popular seaside resort with domestic tourists.

More than 1.2m of snow fell in the area overnight, the Interior Ministry said, and all inbound traffic could not reach the city on Saturday.

Cars stuck under fallen trees on snowy road in Murree
Cars stuck under fallen trees on snowy road in Murree

Ahmed said paramilitary troops and a special mountain military unit were called in for help.

He added: “Until then, no vehicles or even people on foot are allowed to enter Murree except for emergency and rescue vehicles and those delivering food to stranded people. “

Khan shocked and upset

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted that he was shocked by what had happened.

He said on Twitter: “Shocked and shocked by the tragic deaths of tourists on the road to Murree. Unprecedented snowfall and a stampede of people proceeding without checking the weather conditions caught the district administrator off guard.

“Ordered an investigation and put in place strict regulations to ensure the prevention of such tragedies.”

Rescue efforts overnight were hampered by the amount of snow, authorities said, with large snow-clearing equipment jammed early.

Food and blankets have been distributed to those caught in the bad weather.

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