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Corrupt Police and district administration’s incompetence, caused dozens of deaths in Murree (Pakistan)

(By Special Correspondent):- 

Corrupt Punjab Police and civil district administration’s incompetence, and lack of understanding of disaster management and interest in risk management, caused scores of deaths due to snowstorm in Murree. I am sure weekly weather forecasts were available to the local administration and security establishment. I think lives could have been saved if people were educated about the protective warm clothing needed in snow and low temperatures.

On the other hand, approximately 50 years rule of PML-N and PPP have completely failed to develop other tourism spots in the country in the north of Pakistan. Punjab Police and civil district administrations are totally under land and other mafia’s control which could be seen in the increasing number of court cases related to land and property matters. There is no sense of disaster management and military is called frequently to deal with floods, earthquakes and various emergencies which should be dealt by the police and district administration.

Johar Town Lahore car bomb blast was caused because Punjab Police official took bribe of only Rs 5000 from the car bomber at the check point in 2021.  

State news agency (APP) reported that: Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed Saturday said around 19 people have died due to bitter cold after their vehicles got struck on roads on way to Murree and army and civil armed forces have been summoned to help evacuate the people.

Thousands of tourists rushed to the scenic hill station, only an hour’s drive from the capital Islamabad to enjoy the heavy snowfall on Friday. The district administration had to stop all vehicular traffic heading to Murree as traffic got stuck due to slippery roads and snow.

Many of the vehicles with families, children were little prepared for the harsh winter conditions and had to spend the time in freezing cold.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed said the help of civil armed forces was sought to help rescue the people. In a video message he said “At least 16 to 19 people died inside their vehicles.”

The administration had closed all traffic heading towards Murree till Sunday.

Minister for Interior, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said five platoons of the Pakistan Army had been called in for rescue operation, while Rangers and Frontier Corps have also been deployed on an emergency basis. He said the administration and police of Rawalpindi and Islamabad were working together on the rescue operation.

The minister said the rescue operation continued through out the night to rescue maximum number of people. He expressed the hope that the authorities would evacuate 1,000 vehicles by Saturday evening, while the roads would remain closed to Murree till tomorrow 9 pm. He said only those vehicles would be allowed, that were shifting blankets and food for the stranded tourists.

“We have also decided to ban tourists who are planning to move to Murree by walk as this is not the time to come to Murree.”

He said it was for the first time that a large number of tourists rushed to Murree that resulted in heavy traffic jams.

“Keeping in view the situation, we have to stop allowing further tourists moving to Murree”, he said and noted that the locals provided food and blankets to the stranded people.

The District Administration was in full gear to evacuate the people and heavy equipment was being used to clear the roads of snow.

Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar in a tweet said over 23,000 stuck up vehicles were cleared from the roads till late Friday night while efforts were in to evacuate the other people. He said more heavy road clearing equipment was being rushed to clear the roads.

The met office has warned of more snow this evening.

The Rawalpindi District administration, Rescue-1122 and police were directed to accelerate the ongoing operation to rescue all the stranded tourists in Murree.

The government of Punjab declared an emergency in the hill station after heavy snowfall and severe traffic congestion on the roads.

On the directives of Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar, the administration and police were mobilized and directed to utilize all available resources to rescue stranded citizens.

According to a district administration spokesman, over 23,000 vehicles stranded due to heavy snowfall, had been safely evacuated.

The administration was providing food and other essential items to the tourists, he added.

A special control room had also been set up in DC Office and citizens could contact on 051-9269016, 051-9292963 and 03005540819 to get information, he said.

All the departments concerned including the administration, Rescue-1122, hospitals and police had been directed to expedite their relief and rescue activities, he said.

The spokesman informed that a number of in four vehicles trapped due to heavy snowfall on Kuldanna road towards Abbottabad on Friday night were found dead.

According to DC Rawalpindi Muhammad Ali, more than 135,000 vehicles had entered Murree amid heavy snowfall in five days, whereas, the electricity supply was also suspended. He urged the citizens not to travel to Murree.

Moreover, some parts of Gallyat, Nathia Gali, Thandiyani were hit by snowstorm while landslides blocked Murree Road in Kundla.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister on Information and Public Relations, Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif said that in the wake of continuous rains and snowfall, all concerned authorities have been put on alert in the province.

In a statement issued on Saturday, he said that due to heavy snowfall, all the roads at Galiyat had been closed as the area has so far received 6 feet of snow.

He said that 75000 stranded vehicles have been rescued.

Barrister Saif said the Control Room of Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) has been operationalized 24/7 which was in constant contact with all districts of the province.

On the other hand, a spokesperson Motorway Police Yasir Mehmood on Saturday said that most of the stranded tourist had been evacuated from Murree and rest of would be sent back soon to safe places.

Motorway police had been mobilized all of its machinery to clear Murree motorway for people to go back as early as possible as light snow fall has been started again, he said talking to PTV news.

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