At least 20 tourists have died after their vehicles were stranded in the heavy snowstorm that fell in Murree on Friday night, with Prime Minister Imran Khan blaming the ‘rush of people’ for the tragedy.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid on Saturday said that hundreds of vehicles remained stranded in Murree, with death tolls feared to continue to rise.
The minister said that armed forces personnel, helicopters and other heavy machinery were being deployed to assist in the rescue.
Prime Minister Imran Khan issued a statement, claiming that the ‘tragic’ deaths were due to severe weather conditions and a lack of planning and foresight of tourists.
The premier vowed to enact “strong regulation to ensure prevention of such tragedies.”
Shocked & upset at tragic deaths of tourists on road to Murree. Unprecedented snowfall & rush of ppl proceeding without checking weather conditions caught district admin unprepared. Have ordered inquiry & putting in place strong regulation to ensure prevention of such tragedies.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) January 8, 2022
Among the deceased is the family of and Islamabad police officer and another family from Rawalpindi as they travelled to Murree for a snowy winter weekend.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has declared a state of emergency in area and ordered government guest houses to open their doors to stranded tourists.
The deaths have generated an outcry on Twitter, with many decrying the government’s poor planning at the popular tourist destination.
People have been warning the current govt about the pitfalls of their tourism drive for years, but they’ve constantly been labelled anti-nationalists. Greater tourism is brilliant if you have the infrastructure & sustainability provisions to support it. Otherwise it’s a disaster.
— Usman (@UsmanAhmad_iam) January 8, 2022
What is happening in Murree is the future of Tourism in Gilgit-Baltistan. Unplanned, unsustainable & absolute chaos in peak seasons.
— Zaighum Abbas (@leftitweets) January 8, 2022
“Murree was a disaster waiting to happen. Two days ago a government minister was boasting that 1 lac Murree tourists this year are a sign of nations prosperity, while knowing the city doesn’t have parking arrangements for more than 5000,” read one post.
Murree was a disaster waiting to happen. Two days ago a government minister was boasting that 1 lac Murree tourists this year are a sign of nations prosperity, while knowing the city doesn't have parking arrangements for more than 5000
— Jahandad Khan (@JahandadKT) January 8, 2022