At least 22 die in cars trapped by Pakistan snowstorm

PAKISTAN: At least 22 people, including 10 children, died in a popular mountain resort town in Pakistan after being stuck in their vehicles overnight during a heavy snowstorm as temperatures plummeted, officials said on Saturday.

Most of the victims died of hypothermia, officials said. Among them was an Islamabad police officer and seven other members of his family, fellow police officer Atiq Ahmed said.

More than 4 feet (1m) of snow fell in the area of the Murree Hills resort overnight on Friday and early Saturday, trapping thousands of cars on roadways, said Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.

The snow was so severe that heavy equipment brought in to clear it initially got stuck during the night, said Umar Maqbool, assistant commissioner for the town of Murree. Temperatures fell to minus 8 degrees Celsius.

Officials called in paramilitary troops and a special military mountain unit to help. By late on Saturday, thousands of vehicles had been pulled from the snow but more than a thousand were still stuck, Ahmed said.

Located 46km north of the capital of Islamabad, Murree is a popular winter resort town that attracts well over a million tourists annually. Streets leading into the town are often blocked by snow in winter. – GULF NEWS

by Daily News Sri Lanka

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