Traffic jams accompanying a snow storm in northern Pakistan killed dozens of tourists trapped in their cars on Saturday (8).
The authorities are still updating the number of victims, and according to Agence France-Presse, there are 21 dead. Reuters counts 16.
A rare snowstorm in the mountain town of Morey, located 64 kilometers from the capital Islamabad, has attracted more than 100,000 cars in recent days to attend the event. The sheer size left about 1,000 cars stuck at a station in the area.
The government declared a state of disaster in the city. Army and paramilitaries were deployed to assist with the rescue operations, and authorities provided housing in schools and administrative buildings for those who managed to get off the congested roads.
“For the first time in 15 to 20 years, so many tourists have crowded Mori, causing a big crisis,” Pakistani Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said in a video message.
Touring cars stuck in snow in the mountain town of Morey, Pakistan, on January 8, 2022 (Photo: BTV/Reuters)
Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was shocked by the “tragic deaths” of tourists. “We have ordered an investigation and put in place strict rules to ensure that such tragedies are prevented,” Khan said on Twitter.
The snow storm that started on Tuesday night (4) continued at regular intervals and attracted thousands of tourists. The government had announced, on Friday evening (7), the closure of all roads leading to the site to prevent the additional influx of tourists.
Due to the large number of visitors, many families ended up getting stuck on the roads. According to Agence France-Presse, the police said so At least six people froze to death. It is not yet known whether the other victims suffocated after inhaling gases in the crowd.
“The deaths were caused by cold or carbon monoxide poisoning,” Fahim Younes, chair of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of Maryland, said in a tweet.
“CO2 is odorless and deadly, if a stationary vehicle is buried in the snow, a clogged exhaust can quickly kill occupants by inhaling carbon dioxide,” he said.
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