Dozens of tourists who hit the road to see sceneries of snowfall got stranded due to traffic jam amid a blizzard and ended up dead in Pakistan. According to sources including The Associated Press on Saturday, a snowfall of more than 1 meter fell on roads around Murree in northern Pakistan, which left tens of thousands of vehicles stranded and at least 22 people dead.
Most of the deceased are tourists in family groups and they included 10 children. The ill-fated tourists included a family whose five children are less than 15 years old, a group of four friends, and a family with two children. The authority said most of them were frozen to death, while some others were apparently intoxicated with carbon monoxide. “If a vehicle idling is buried in the snow to have its emission pipe blocked, passengers in the vehicle can inhale odorless carbon monoxide and die,” said Dr. Faheem Yunos, a professor of public health at the University of Maryland.
Murree, a major winter resort situated in highland areas, saw an influx of tourists due to exceptionally heavy snow there. Pakistani Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said, “The area had the largest number of crowd in the past 20 years to cause the tragic disaster.” Some 100,000 vehicles headed to the area to jampack the roads, with a number of photos of snow scenes uploaded on social media. Up until then, local authorities sought to attract tourists by announcing the number of visitors, but roads started to jam and get isolated due to snowstorm from Friday. The Pakistani government declared a state of disaster in the region on Saturday.
Minister Rashid said passengers in thousands of vehicles were rescued through Saturday night, but rescue equipment did not secure proper access to the areas due to immense snowfall, leaving thousands of vehicles still stranded. Local residents provided blankets and foods to stranded people, while makeshift shelters were put into place at public offices and schools.
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