Pakistan forms committee to investigate Murree tragedy after at least 23 people die in freezing temperatures

WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: Jan 10, 2022, 12:02 PM(IST)

People stand next to cars stuck under fallen trees on a snowy road, in Murree in this still image taken from a video on January 8, 2022. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

So far, the Pakistan officials have given no word on the causes of the deaths

Pakistan has formed a committee on Sunday to investigate the deaths of more than 20 people, who were left stranded in their vehicles in northern Pakistan and died in freezing temperatures, as per report.  

Pakistan-based media outlet Geo News reported that Additional Chief Secretary Home Zafar Nasrullah has been appointed as the convener of the committee. The report cited a notification that was issued after the names of the committee members were finalised. 

As per the report, Provincial secretaries Ali Sarfaraz, Asad Gilani, Assistant Inspector General Farooq Mazhar have been named as members of the committee. 

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Local media reports have stated that the death toll from heavy snowfall in Pakistan's Murree has surged to 23. 

The Pakistan government has declared Murree, which is around 64 km northeast of the capital Islamabad, a calamity hit area. Some 1,000 vehicles are still stranded and media reports added that over 100,000 vehicles entered the hill station. 

Pakistan's interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, in a video address said: "For the first time in 15 to 20 years such large number of tourists flocked to Murree, which created a big crisis."

So far, the Pakistan officials have given no word on the causes of the deaths.

"Were the deaths caused by cold or carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning?," Dr. Faheem Yonus, chief of infectious diseases at the University of Maryland UCH, said in a tweet.

"CO is odorless, lethal if an idling car is buried in snow, the blocked exhaust (silencer) can quickly kill the passengers as they breath CO," he added. 

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How the committee will work?

The media report has revealed how the committee members will go about the investigation as it stated that they will check what precautionary measures were taken by institutions after weather advisory was issued by the Met Office. 

The committee will also probe weather travel warning was run on news channels so people would have refrained from flocking to the tourist destination. 

The committee will probe what traffic control measures were taken amid the snowstorm and after reports of the adverse weather conditions were received, what safety measures were implemented.

The report as a result of the findings obtained will be submitted to the provincial government in seven days. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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