Analysts urge people to use caution when traveling to hilly areas amid rains and snowfall
Lieutenant-General Akhtar Nawaz (President, NDMA): It is a very difficult situation for us and our top priority is to save the tourists stranded in Murree. All available resources have been mobilized in relief activities. Eight camps have been established by the Pakistani Army, Civil Administration and Pakistan Air Force to provide shelter, food, medicine, heaters and beds for evacuees. The process of removing vehicles from the roads is also underway. We used all resources to open the roads which were closed due to heavy snowfall. Getting vehicles off the road is a difficult task.
Malik Amin Aslam (Minister of Climate Change): The situation in Murree arose in part due to unpredictable or unusual weather conditions. Even the National Weather Forecasting Center had predicted heavy snowfall on the hills. Pakistan is among the countries most threatened by climate change. It is unfortunate that we do not take the meteorological service warning seriously. In view of the weather forecast, the response of the public and the municipal administration is mandatory. We must learn a lesson from this tragedy that the flow of tourists to the resorts beyond their capacity must not be allowed. These areas should be closed once they have reached their full tourist capacity. The administration of the northern regions is also advised to control the flow of people due to unpredictable weather conditions.
Amir Sohail (Divisional Forestry Officer, Murree): The local administration in Murree was already trying to control the situation, but due to heavy snow and crowds, tragedy struck. Tourists should be careful when traveling in hilly areas as such situations can arise at any time. Over the past two or three days, people have gathered in large numbers in Gilyat and surrounding areas. Suddenly heavy snowfall started and tourists panicked resulting in even more traffic jams. The government’s Billion Tree Tsunami initiative is underway in Murree and the authorities concerned are instructed to plant as many trees as possible in order to minimize the impacts of climate change.
Muhammad Irfan (Meteorologist): Further rains and snowfall over the Kashmir Hills and adjacent areas are expected in Kashmir in the next 24 hours. As the weather situation is not good, tourists are advised to avoid traveling to the northern regions, Murree, Ayubia and Galyat as these places have already been congested due to heavy traffic jams.