22 tourists shiver to death as Army, Rangers call in calamity-hit Murree
Emergency imposed as stranded tourists cry for help in overcrowded Murree and Galyat: Murree Road closed, thousands stranded in the open: Govt asking people to avoid visit to upper areas
Stay tunned with 24 News HD Android App
At least 22 tourists including women and children shivered to death as Army, Frontier Corps and Rangers were called in to rescue thousands of tourists stranded in the frosty cold of Murree and Galyat after the authorities imposed an emergency in the hill station declaring it a calamity-hit area on Saturday, reported 24NewsHD TV.
The authorities invoked the emergency after the normal life was paralysed due to the heavy snowfall last night.
The deceased belonged to Lahore, Gujranwala, Islamabad and Mardan including eight members of the same family.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed said they have the reports that the number of deaths inside the vehicles buried under the snow was 19 including women and children and it might rise.
Five platoons of Army and personnel of Rangers and Frontier Corps were summoned in for the rescue operation as local administrations crumbed in face of the daunting situation.
Thousands of tourists have been stranded in Murree and Galyat following heavy snowfall that has slammed the frigid picnic spots owing to which the administration has closed the Murree Road for all kinds of traffic.
Thousands of sightseers spent their night on roads, in their vehicles buried under the snow, calling for help. A great number of tourists are thronging these areas which are receiving heavy snowfall of the season becoming a big attraction for them. A huge number of tourists have taken the Murree and Galyat administrations off guard as roads and hotels have become fully packed.
The administration has created a control room at the deputy commissioner’s office in Rawalpindi.
Motorway police spokesman Yasir Mehmood said that both Motorway and National Highway Authority police were busy helping the stranded tourists. He appealed to people to not plan any unnecessary visit to Murree asking them to take information regarding their journey to the hilly areas on the motorway police’s helpline 130.
He said that the administration was seeking the help of the civil armed forces. He apologized to the stranded tourists who left for Murree yesterday night. He also appealed to locals to extend help to the marooned holidaymakers. He stated he himself was monitoring all the measures taken by the administration in this regard.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry in his tweet on Saturday also appealed to the tourists to postpone their visit to the upper areas of the country as a huge deluge of vehicles was already going to Murree and other upper areas. It is impossible to provide facilities to a large number of tourists for the local administration, he added.
مری اور دیگر بالائ مقامات کیلئے ایک جم غفیر رواں دواں ہے لاکھوں گاڑیاں ان علاقوں کی طرف جارہی ہیں مقامی انتظامیہ کیلئے اتنی بڑی تعداد میں لوگوں کو سہولیات پہنچانا ناممکن بن گیا ہے، جو لوگ ابھی گھروں میں ہیں ان سے درخواست ہے بالائ علاقوں کی سیر کا پلان کچھ دنوں کیلئے موخٓر کر دیں— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) January 8, 2022
Abbottabad Galyat Development Authority Director General Raza Habib while talking to the media said Galyat region has a capacity of only 20,000 tourists. But, around one lakh tourists have entered the region. All hotels are booked and no more rooms are available, he added.
The GDA spokesman said the tourists in Galyat should take precautionary measures as a road is closed due to a landslide in Kandla. Due to heavy snowfall, it is not possible to clear the road immediately as well as wrong parking on the side of the road is also a major reason for road blockade, Hameed added.
Muree city's power supply was disrupted due to snow storm. One feeder out of three pertaining to the city has been restored and the remaining 2 are expected to be restored within an hour.— Hammad Azhar (@Hammad_Azhar) January 8, 2022
Despite ongoing heavy snowfall, all staff has been directed to ensure power supply.
He warned the tourists to avoid travelling between Tauhidabad and Donga Gali.
Punjab CM declares Murree disaster-hit area, imposes emergency
In a tweet on the social networking site, the Punjab government said, "The Punjab Chief Minister has declared a state of emergency in Murree and declared the city a disaster."
The statement said that all the rest houses and government institutions in Murree and adjoining areas have been opened for tourists while the Chief Minister has also donated his helicopter for rescue operations which will take part in relief activities as the weather improves. ۔
The provincial government said that Army and Rangers personnel have also been called in for the rescue operation, while the Chief Secretary, IG Police, Relief Commissioner, DG Rescue and the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) has been directed to conduct self-monitoring of rescue activities.
Usman Bazdar said in his tweet that "all agencies in Murree area have been directed to expedite the process of rescue and evacuation of citizens and vehicles trapped in the snow and to send more machinery and relief goods from Rawalpindi".
Inspector General of Punjab Police (IG) ordered to help on an emergency basis. He also ordered immediate evacuation of women, the elderly and children and provision of warm blankets and food.
وزیراعلیٰ @UsmanAKBuzdar کا مری میں ایمرجنسی کےنفاذ کا اعلان: مری کو آفت زدہ قراردےدیا— Government of Punjab (@GovtofPunjabPK) January 8, 2022
•مری اور ملحقہ علاقوں میں تمام ریسٹ ہاؤسز اور سرکاری اداروں کوسیاحوں کیلئےکھول دیاگیاہے
•وزیراعلی نےاپنا ہیلی کاپٹر بھی ریسکیوسرگرمیوں کےلئےدےدیاموسم بہترہوتے ہی امدادی سرگرمیوں میں حصہ لےگا pic.twitter.com/o5sdTH8lD8
مری کےعلاقوں میں تمام اداروں کو برف میں پھنسے شہریوں اور گاڑیوں کو ریسکیو کرنے اور بحفاظت علاقے سے نکالنے کے عمل کو تیز کرنے اور راولپنڈی سے مزید مشینری اور امدادی سامان بھجوانے کےاحکامات دئیےہیں— Usman Buzdar (@UsmanAKBuzdar) January 8, 2022
گزشتہ رات 23 ہزار سے زائد گاڑیاں علاقے سے نکالی گئیں اور یہ ریسکیو آپریشن جاری ہے
مری اور گلیات میں شدید برف باری پر وزیراعلی پنجاب اور آئی جی پنجاب کا راولپنڈی پولیس کو برف باری میں پھنسے سیاحوں کی— Punjab Police Official (@OfficialDPRPP) January 8, 2022
ہنگامی بنیادوں پر مدد کرنے کا حکم۔ خواتین، بزرگ اور بچوں کو فوری طور پر محفوظ مقامات پر منتقل کرنے اور گرم کمبل اور خوراک مہیا کرنے کا حکم۔ pic.twitter.com/59hhbsnDIK
Reporter Haider Ali