Twenty one tourists froze to death at Murree, Pakistani Punjab, on Saturday when an unscheduled troop movement of Pakistan Army led to a massive traffic jam amidst heavy snowfall. A large number of the dead include children and women who were stuck in their vehicles that lay buried in several feet snow. Preliminary enquires suggest the deaths occurred due to hypothermia and suffocation.
“All of a sudden the traffic was stopped. We were told that Pakistani military vehicles are passing by. By the time the roads were open for public our vehicles were stuck in heavy snow. I thank Allah for being alive,” said Javed who along with his family was rescued by traffic wardens.
However, several others could not survive the harsh weather conditions. Twenty one people died due to hypothermia and suffocation. The heavy snowstorm along with the snowfall also led to trees being uprooted and falling over on the tourist vehicles.
Locals say more than 1000 tourist vehicles were stuck in the heavy snow. The Lisdana, Mahmood Gali, Sadhan Gali and Lepa Road have been completely closed due to heavy snowfall. The Athmuqam Sardasht Road is open from Muzaffarabad. Another road from Muzaffarabad to Chakothi is open.
At the time of writing this news Murree is still closed to traffic while those going to Rawalpindi from Islamabad and from there to Muzaffarabad can use Barakot Road. Similarly, those travelling to Bagh and Rawalkot in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) can use Dhalkot and Azadpattan roads.