PAKISTAN, WORLD LINES – Dozens of tourists have died from extreme cold while trapped in their vehicles enjoying the snow in the Murree Hills of northern Pakistan. As of Saturday 8 January 2022, there are still around 1,000 vehicles stuck in Murree Hill.
Under these conditions, the local government designated Murree Hill as a disaster-prone area.
“For the first time in 15 to 20 years a number of tourists flocked to Murree which ended up creating a major crisis,” said Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, citing Reuters January 8, 2022.
He said about 1,000 cars were still stuck in the area around the hill. Local authorities confirmed that at least 16 to 19 tourists died in their cars.
Rashid said soldiers and paramilitaries had been deployed in the operation to rescue the tourists.
Earlier, on Friday evening, the Pakistani government announced the closure of all roads leading to the hills to prevent more tourists from arriving.
Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, expressed his condolences for the incident. He confirmed that the government would investigate the incident.
“It has ordered an investigation and implemented strict regulations to ensure the prevention of such a tragedy from repeating itself,” Imran said.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Minister of Information, Fawad Chaudhry, appealed to the public not to visit Murree Hills for a while.
Previously, snowfall since Tuesday night made tourists interested in visiting the area. The boom in tourists made many of them end up stranded on the streets.
Local media reported that more than 100,000 vehicles entered the hill area. Videos posted on social media also showed a family dead in their snow-covered vehicle.
“Was the death caused by the flu or carbon monoxide poisoning?” said Infectious Disease Researcher at the University of Maryland, Dr. Faheem Yonus in his tweet.
“CO is odorless, lethal if a dead car is buried in snow, a clogged exhaust can quickly kill passengers when they inhale CO.”
Until now, local authorities have not been able to confirm the cause of death of the tourists.