22 people die in cars stuck in heavy snow in Pakistan : NPR

People walk past vehicles retained in a heavy snowfall-hit area in Murree, some 28 miles north of the capital of Islamabad, Pakistan, on Saturday.

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People walk past vehicles retained in a heavy snowfall-hit area in Murree, some 28 miles north of the capital of Islamabad, Pakistan, on Saturday.

Inter sets Public Relations via AP

ISLAMABAD — Temperatures fell to minus 8 degrees Celsius (17.6 Fahrenheit) amid heavy snowfall at Pakistan’s mountain resort town of Murree overnight, killing at the minimum 22 people who were stuck in their vehicles, officials said Saturday.

Atiq Ahmed, an Islamabad police officer, said eight of the 22 fatalities were from the family of fellow police officer Naveed Iqbal, who also died. Most of the victims died of hypothermia, officials said.

Rescue sets physician Abdur Rehman said that after evacuating all of the stranded tourists from their cars, the death toll stood at 22, including 10 men, 10 children and two women.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said thousands of vehicles had been pulled from the snow but more than a thousand were nevertheless stuck in the area Saturday.

Army troops take part in a rescue operation in a heavy snowfall-hit area in Murree.

Inter sets Public Relations via AP


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Army troops take part in a rescue operation in a heavy snowfall-hit area in Murree.

Inter sets Public Relations via AP

Located 28 miles (45.5 kilometers) north of the capital of Islamabad, Murree is a popular winter resort that attracts well over a million tourists yearly. Streets leading into the city are often confined by snow in winter.

Ahmed, the interior minister, said more than 4 feet (1.2 meters) of snow fell in the area overnight and all incoming traffic was confined Saturday. The minister said paramilitary troops and a special military mountain unit had been called in to help.

“Until then no means or already people on foot are allowed to go into Murree except for the emergency and rescue vehicles and those bringing food for the stuck people,” he said.

Army members take part in the rescue operation on Saturday.

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Army members take part in the rescue operation on Saturday.

Inter sets Public Relations via AP

Umar Maqbool, a local administrator, said the heavy snowfall hampered rescue efforts during the night and already heavy equipment brought in to clear the snow got stuck initially.

Officials gave no further details about those who died in their snowed-in vehicles but said they were working on both recovery and rescue operations. Maqbool said food and blankets were distributed to the stuck tourists during the night.

Most streets leading to the area’s resorts were largely cleared of snow later Saturday but some work was nevertheless being done, Maqbool said. Military troops and machines were working to clear all the streets and the military established relief camps at army run schools that provided shelter and food.

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