A deadly blizzard that caused several avalanches, the likes of which has not been seen in 30 years in Pakistan, killed at least 22 people, including a family of 5 and a family 8.
On Friday 7th January 5ft of snow fell down in Murree a popular tourist location to the North East of Pakistan.
Pre-notification of large snow fall on Pakistan’s media led to an above average number of visits to famous town. Local parking areas designed by the British in the 1800’s were sufficient for for up to 5000 cars, but over 100,000 vehicles turned up.
As snow piled up, visitors soon found themselves stranded in the cold unable to drive away from the area due to the depth of the snow, many fallen trees and other large debris. Drivers and their passengers chose to leave their vehicles were they were stuck. They walked up to 3 miles in the cold snow, to their hotels and a few temporary shelters that were put up in emergency.
We have also heard directly from a source in Ilford, London, that members of his family had booked a hotel but the leaving tenant were refusing to leave their rooms, meaning the young men had to walk back 3 miles to their car and drive home. Apparently, this late cancellation of booking for the same reason occurred at several hotels who simply did not know how to cope with the situation.
Unfortunately, some local hotels began to take advantage of the situation and ramped up prices for staying overnight. This and the obvious overcrowding, led to many people who had arrived for a day trip, deciding to sit out the weather in their vehicles.
The majority of people who died are said to be from the number staying in the cars. Some died from Carbon Monoxide poisoning through leaving their heating and windows shut and others, have died from hypothermia probably from faulty or inefficient heating.
The Government of Pakistan is being blamed by many for a lack of warnings, permitting too many vehicles on roads that could not handle the huge traffic and for the limited amount of temporary shelters.
The rescue services were also hampered by stranded parked vehicles on the road that made the emergency response slow and ineffective.
Warning the video above shows distressing scenes of a family dead though carbon monoxide poisoning.
However, brave emergency staff are being praised for their efforts that no doubt saved thousands of lives. One young girl even spent 24 hours under the freezing snow before being rescued alive (click here).
Churches in Pakistan prayed for those affected by the heavy snowfall, and many churches in the UK and around the world mirrored such prayers.
Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for British Asian Christian Association, said:
“Though heavy snowfall in Murree is not unusual the level of snow in 2022 is one of the rare oversized blizzards.
“The devastation caused by overcrowding of the town and packed roads is a situation that deserves more inspection.
“Pakistan’s Government must learn from this incident and ensure people are better protected in future.
“The bravery of the emergency services who saved so many lives deserves praise.
“Working through day and night they managed to save thousands.
“We continue to pray for rescue workers and those affected by the recent snowfall.”