Those who died include eight members of the same family after their vehicles were submerged in snow, officials said.
At least 16 people have frozen to life after heavy snowfall trapped them in their vehicles as tens of thousands of visitors thronged the Pakistani city of Murree.
The army was mobilized to clear the roads and rescue those still trapped, Pakistani Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said on Saturday in a video message, adding: “At least 16 to 19 people have died in the area. inside their vehicles.
Atiq Ahmed, a police officer from Islamabad, said eight of the 16 deaths were from the family of another police officer from Islamabad, Naveed Iqbal, who also died. All 16 died of hypothermia.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was shocked by the “tragic deaths” of tourists. “Have ordered an investigation and put in place strict regulations to ensure the prevention of such tragedies,” Khan said in a tweet.
Located about 50 km (22 miles) north of the capital, Islamabad, Murree is a popular resort town that attracts over a million tourists each year. The streets leading to the city are often blocked by snow in winter.
Videos shared on social media showed entire families, including children, lying dead in their snow-covered vehicles.
Heavy snow warnings
Snowfall, which started Tuesday evening, continued at regular intervals, drawing thousands of tourists. Due to the large number of visitors, many families found themselves stranded on the roads.
“This is an example of a systemic failure because, according to reports, around 100,000 vehicles have made their way to the hill station, one which has narrow roads,” Kamal Hyder of Al Jazeera said from Islamabad.
“There were warnings of heavy snowfall and it led to a total disaster because people were stuck in their vehicles, entire families. Their vehicles were buried under piles of snow.
Ahmed, the interior minister, said more than 1.2 meters (4 feet) of snow fell in the area overnight and all inbound traffic was blocked on Saturday. The minister said paramilitary troops and a special mountain military unit had been called in to help.
“Until then, no vehicles or even people on foot are allowed to enter Murree, except for emergency and rescue vehicles and those bringing food to stranded people,” he said. he declares.
Umar Maqbool, a local administrator, said heavy snowfall hampered rescue efforts overnight and even the heavy equipment brought in to clear the snow initially got stuck.
Authorities gave no further details of those who died in their stranded vehicles, but said they were working on both recovery and rescue operations. Food and blankets were distributed to stranded tourists.
The office of the chief minister of Punjab province said Murree had been declared a “disaster area” and urged people to stay away.