At least 21 people have died in the bitter cold in a mountainous tourist area in northern Pakistan. On Saturday (1/8), the authorities said that tens of thousands of tourists were traveling to see the snow in Moreh village, but they were surprised by the unusually heavy snowfall, which caused massive traffic jams, and hundreds of cars were stranded.
Police said at least eight people froze to death in their cars, although it was not immediately clear whether other people died of suffocation after inhaling exhaust fumes from snow-covered cars.
Rescue services said that after all the tourists were taken out of their cars, the death toll reached 21, including 10 children and two women.
Videos posted on social media show people walking through heavy snow in search of safety, leaving their cars.
Pakistani Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said the army was deployed to clear the roads and rescue thousands of people still trapped near Morey.
The village is one of the most popular tourist spots in northern Pakistan, located about 70 kilometers northeast of Islamabad and at an altitude of about 2,300 metres.
Due to its proximity to the Pakistani capital, the area is a popular destination for tourists during weekends, especially in winter, when the hills are covered in a blanket of snow.
Pakistani Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said in a statement that more than 100,000 vehicles entered the area on Friday, “of which more than 1,000 are still suspended and are scheduled to be evacuated tonight.”
Snow games with pictures
Pakistani social media has been showing pictures and videos of people playing in the ice for days around Moree, a picturesque resort town built by the British in the 19th century as a sanatorium for their colonial forces.
The Punjab chief minister’s office said the surrounding areas had been declared a “disaster area” and urged people to stay away from the area.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was shocked by the tragedy. “Unprecedented snowfall and a rush of people advancing without checking weather conditions surprised the district manager,” he wrote on Twitter. “I have ordered an investigation and strict regulations to be implemented to ensure that such tragedies are prevented,” he added.
MD (EFE, AP, AFP)
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