Pakistani rescue services, Rescue 1122, released a list of 21 people who died, including a policeman, his wife and their six children. Hasaan Khawar, a spokesperson for the Punjab government, said they were frozen to death in their car.
Police confirmed that eight people froze to death in their cars, but it was not immediately clear whether the other victims died from the same cause or from carbon monoxide poisoning inhaled in the passenger compartment. their vehicle.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said the army was mobilized to clear the roads and rescue the thousands of people still stranded near Murree, located about 70 kilometers northeast of the capital Islamabad.
Videos shared on social media showed cars immobilized, bumper to bumper with up to a meter of snow on their roofs.
According to a tourist still stuck in the city, snow continued to fall on Saturday afternoon.
People face a terrible situationUsman Abbasi told AFP by phone.
A popular destination
For several days, many photos had been shared on Pakistani social networks showing tourists playing in the snow around Murree, a city founded in the 19e century by the British as a sanatorium for their colonial troops.
Authorities in Punjab province announced that Murree had been declared
disaster area and asked the population not to go there immediately.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was shocked, but also annoyed by the tragedy.
Unprecedented snowfall and a stampede of people moving without checking the weather conditions caught the district administration off guard, he tweeted.
I have ordered an investigation and am putting in place strict regulations to ensure the prevention of such tragedies, he added.
Authorities had already warned last weekend about the overflow of visitors to Murree, but that hasn’t stopped many Islamabad residents from rushing there again.
It is not only tourists, the local population also faces serious problems., Usman Abbasi said.
Gas bottles are depleted and there is no drinking water in most neighborhoods – either it’s frozen or the pipes are chipped from the cold, he said, adding that the hotels were running out of food.
Located at an altitude of 2300 m, Murree clings to the sides of several hills and its narrow access roads are regularly congested, even in good weather.
According to Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, the townspeople harbored many visitors stuck in the town and brought blankets and food to those stranded in traffic jams.
Schools and administrative buildings also welcome disaster victims, he added.