RAWALPINDI: At least 22 tourists who were stranded in their vehicles due to heavy snowfall died of the extreme weather in Murree on Friday night.
Talking to ARY News, Divisional Emergency Officer Abdul Rehman confirmed 21 tourists died of cold at the hill station that has been declared a calamity-hit area with the army troops called in to rescue tourists who are still stranded there.
The death toll has soared to 22 while a rescue and evacuation operation is underway in the hilly area.
The deceased tourists hailed from Karachi, Lahore, Mardan and other cities.
According to a report on the Murree tragedy presented to Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar by the Rawalpindi administration, more than 100,000 vehicles entered Murree over the past three days. 12,000 of them exited the hill station while the rest got stuck.
The report put the death toll at 20 and said the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) had not alerted the district administration about the unprecedented snowfall that the hilly area was to receive.
Murree received five feet of snowfall, it said, adding the roads leading to the hill station were closed on the night of Jan 6 with people advised to avoid travelling to the area yet tourists in large number reached there.
The report said the roads have not yet been cleared and the rescue operation has started.