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Major roads cleared in Murree for all types of movement: ISPR

Authorities remove snow from major roads to normalise traffic

MURREE: All main roads of calamity-hit Murree have been cleared for all type of movements, whereas, efforts for evacuating stranded tourists are also underway, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said on Sunday.

Providing an update on the rescue operation, the military’s media wing said the Kuldana-Barian road has also been cleared, adding that after the clearance of main roads, army engineers were now focusing on road links.

“Relief camps/medical facilities are fully operating and army transport is plying for moving of stranded tourists to Rawalpindi/Islamabad,” the ISPR added.

In a tweet, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill has also confirmed that all major arteries to Murree had been cleared for traffic.

“Around 600 to 700 cars were evacuated from the area last night,” he said, adding that Rawalpindi police, the district administration and Pakistan Army soldiers worked through the night.

“Police officials are present on the roads leading to Murree from Islamabad and Rawalpindi. The roads will remain closed for today,” the special assistant added.

Meanwhile, operations for the evacuation of snowstorm-stranded tourists in Murree and Galyat are in full swing by Pakistan Air Force (PAF).

A spokesperson said during the rescue operations, PAF personnel have shifted more than 100 persons, including women and children at PAF Bases Kalabagh and Lower Topa. “Shelter, food and medical facilities are being provided round the clock to the affected families,” it added.

High-level inquiry and compensation

Earlier in the day, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar ordered a high-level inquiry into the tragic incident and formed a committee headed by the Punjab additional chief secretary (home), tasking it to submit its report within seven days.

The chief minister, who issued the directives while chairing a meeting in Gharial, said indiscriminate action would be taken against those responsible for negligence in the light of the report of the inquiry committee.

Buzdar also announced financial assistance of Rs17.6 million for the heirs of those who lost their lives in the blizzard. He told the meeting that the financial aid was not a cure for grief “but we share the pain of the bereaved families”.

The meeting also decided that the hill station of Murree would be elevated to the status of a district. “In this regard, suggestions have been sought from the chief secretary and senior member Board of Revenue,” the chief minister told the meeting.

Buzdar also approved the establishment of two new police stations in Murree, while officers of the ranks of additional deputy commissioner and superintendent of police will be posted in the area with immediate effect.

Murree Tragedy

To enjoy snowfall, tens of thousands of people thronged Punjab’s hill town of Murree but a large number of vehicles stranded in snow on Friday night and 22 people died. Eight of them froze to death in their cars and others probably died from asphyxiation after inhaling exhaust fumes in snow-bound vehicles.

On Saturday morning, the Punjab government decla­red the area in and around Murree calamity-hit area. The website of the National Weather Forecasting Centre said heavy snowfall was expected in the area until Sunday afternoon.

Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed sorrow and grief over the tragedy, ordered an inquiry into the incident and asked the authorities concerned to put in place strong regulation to ensure prevention of such tragedy.

 

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