Body set up to probe Murree deaths, entry of tourists restricted in hilly regions

Entry of tourists into Kaghan valley is also restricted to avoid any untoward incident

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar on Sunday formed a five-member committee to probe the causes and negligence that caused at least 22 tourists to lose their lives after becoming stranded in a snowstorm in Murree.

The CM announced the formation of the inquiry committee while visiting the affected areas on Sunday to witness the relief efforts of military and civilian agencies.

The committee will investigate whether:

  • The relevant departments coordinated to formulate a joint action plan to prevent a crisis after the issuance of severe weather warnings?
  • Travel advisories were issued to warn people not to travel to Murree and Galyat?
  • Any steps were taken to regulate the influx of vehicles and tourists into Murree?
  • A contingency plan was prepared to handle situation, in case of emergency?
  • Snow-removing machinery, vehicle-lifters and snow mobiles were present at strategic points?
  • Emergency services such as Rescue 1122 and paramedics were available?

The committee will complete and produce its report within seven days. The Punjab chief minister promised that strict action will be taken against those found responsible in light of the inquiry report. The chief minister also promised action against hotel owners who were found to be overcharging.

Muree will be a district

Buzdar also announced that Murree would be given the status of a district with a proper administrative staff including senior officers to ensure no such incident happens in the future. Buzdar also approved the plan to set up two police stations in Murree. The hill station will also get two new parking plazas, one in Jhika Gali and the other one in Sunny Bank.

The chief minister also announced financial assistance of Rs17.6 million for the families of the victims.

Entry of tourists into Murree is still restricted

All roads into and inside Murree are reportedly clear now. However, vehicles have been barred from entering the hill station until Monday night.

Rescue updates

According to Rawalpindi Commissioner Syed Gulzar Hussain Shah:

  • More than 8,000 people and around 3,000 to 4,000 cars have so far been evacuated from hill station
  • District administration had made arrangements to ensure fuel is provided to travelers so they could go out of snow hit areas
  • Relief camps and medical facilitates were established in the affected areas
  • Police and army transport helped stranded tourists move to Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
  • The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) offered free-on net calling facility for people stranded in snow-hit areas of Murree and the Galyat without balance.

Entry of tourists into Kaghan valley is also restricted

Separately, the entry of tourists into Kaghan, Naran, and Shogran has been banned due to bad weather to avoid any untoward incident.

A notification issued by the deputy commissioner, Dr. Qasim Ali Khan, said the entry of the tourists beyond Balakot has been restricted due to bad weather and heavy snowfall. The inclement weather can trigger landslides and fatal accidents in the Kaghan Valley; therefore entry of tourists into Kaghan, Naran, and Shogran has been banned till further order.

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