- Many vehicles were left stranded.
- According to some reports, tourists had flocked to the area to witness the snow.
- Food, gas, and other supplies were all running low.
After being trapped in their cars for hours due to heavy snowfall Friday night into Saturday morning, at least 22 people died in a mountain town in Pakistan.
According to The Associated Press, thousands of vehicles were left stranded around Murree, which is located about 30 miles northeast from Islamabad. The area is very popular with tourists and attracts over 1 million visitors each year.
On Saturday afternoon, the victims included 10 men and 10 children, as well as two women. Eight victims were from the same family.
According to the BBC, there was an unusually high number daytrippers and tourists who trekked to the area in recent days to see the snow. This was despite being warned to avoid roads that were clogged.
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According to the AP most deaths were caused by hypothermia, as temperatures plummeted to around 17 degrees. Other reports suggested that carbon monoxide from vehicle exhaust may be responsible for at least some deaths.
One official from the government stated that at least 4ft of snow fell and that 1000 cars had been removed. At least another 1,000 cars were stuck on Saturday.
Hotels ran out of food, and basic supplies such as water and gas were difficult to find.
“People are facing a terrible circumstance,” Usman Abbasi, a tourist who was stuck in the town with heavy snow still falling, told AFP via phone.
“It’s not just the tourists that are facing serious problems, but also the local population.”
According to BBC, Murree houses approximately 30,000 people. The area is situated in steep hills and valleys that rise to 7,500 feet above the sea level. The roads in the area are narrow and can be difficult even in good conditions.
Local residents opened their homes to shelter people, and schools and government buildings were also used as shelters.
An investigation is underway to determine how many people were killed and stranded.
“Shocked & upset at tragic deaths Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted that there were “a lot of tourists on the road to Murree.” “Unprecedented snowfall & rush of (people) proceeding without checking weather conditions caught district admin unprepared. Have ordered inquiry & putting in place strong regulation to ensure prevention of such tragedies.”
Friday’s snowfall was caused by a low-pressure system that moved in overnight and stalled across the region.
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