At least 16 tourists died in freezing temperatures after being stranded in their vehicles in northern Pakistan, where thousands had flocked to enjoy the snow, officials said on Saturday (January 8).
With some 1,000 vehicles still stranded, the government has declared Murree, 64 km (40 miles) northeast of the capital Islamabad, a calamity hit area.
“The local people are delivering blankets and food. Now we are only allowing vehicles carrying blankets and food towards Murree. All roads leading to Murree have been sealed,” Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Pakistan’s interior minister said a video message.
The minister said that around 1,000 cars were stuck in the hill station, a town elevated from the nearby area, confirming that “16 to 19 people have died inside their cars.”
Army platoons and paramilitary forces have been deployed to help the civil administration in rescue operations, he said.
Late on Friday the government announced the closure of all roads leading to the station to stop any further influx of the tourists.
Snowfall, which began on Tuesday night, continued at regular intervals, attracting thousands of tourists. Due to huge numbers of visitors, many families ended up getting stranded on roads.
Local media reported that over 100,000 vehicles entered the hill station.
Officials have given no word on the causes of the deaths.