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Preliminary report of Murree tragedy presented to CM Punjab Usman Bazdar

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MURREE:– The preliminary report of the tragic incident that took place in Murree was presented to Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Bazdar.

According to sources, the report submitted to the Punjab chief minister said that Murree has the capacity to park 32,000 vehicles, while more than 72,000 vehicles entered Murree on Thursday.

The report also stated that the tourists parked their vehicles on the side of the roads after parking space ended.

Earlier, at least 22 people died in an enormous traffic jam caused by tens of thousands of visitors thronging a Murree to see unusually heavy snowfall, authorities said.

Police reported that at least eight people had frozen to death in their cars, while it was not immediately clear if others had died from asphyxiation after inhaling exhaust fumes in snow-bound vehicles.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said the military had mobilised to clear roads and rescue thousands still trapped near Murree, around 70 kilometres (45 miles) northeast of the capital, Islamabad.

Video shared on social media showed cars packed bumper-to-bumper, with one-metre-high (three-foot) piles of snow on their roofs. “The heavy snowfall caused a traffic jam and the closure of roads,” Babar Khan, a tourist who was stranded for hours, said. “Roads were also closed due to falling trees in many places.”

The website of Pakistan s National Weather Forecasting Centre said heavy snowfall was expected in the area until Sunday afternoon, while Information Minister Fawad Chaudry said “decades” of weather records had been broken in the last 48 hours.

The Punjab province chief minister s office said the surroundings had been declared a “disaster area” and urged people to stay away.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was shocked and upset at the tragedy. “Unprecedented snowfall & rush of ppl proceeding without checking weather conditions caught district admin unprepared,” he tweeted. “Have ordered inquiry & putting in place strong regulation to ensure prevention of such tragedies.”

Authorities warned last weekend that too many vehicles were trying to enter Murree, but that failed to discourage hordes of daytrippers from the capital. “It s not only the tourists, but the local population is also facing severe problems,” Usman Abbasi, another stranded visitor said.

“Gas cylinders have run out and drinking water is not available in most areas — it s either frozen or the water pipes have been damaged due to severe cold.”  He said hotels were running out of food, and mobile phone services were patchy. “People are facing a terrible situation.”


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