The district administration of Islamabad has closed both routes from Islamabad that lead to Murree in view of severe weather conditions in Murree and Galiyat, said Assistant Commissioner Secretariat Circle Mian Anil Saeed.
He added that the district administration of Islamabad has set up diversions to divert vehicles at various places around 17 miles from the toll plaza. Vehicles have been allowed to return to Islamabad from Murree only, but all traffic except for rescue vehicles have been banned from going to Murree, he said.
Rescue teams of Islamabad police are shifting tourists, who are returning on foot from there due to road blockage, from Murree to the capital.
Islamabad police have started operation on an urgent basis and are assisting pedestrian tourists returning from Murree. Islamabad Inspector General of Police (IGP) Muhammad Ahsan Younus is monitoring the overall operation himself.
Policemen are present in the area of Bhara Kahu and assisting all stranded tourists who either forgot the way or whose vehicles broke down. Women, children and elderly people are being assisted on priority and all-out efforts are underway to help them.
Inspector General National Highways and Motorway Police Inam Ghani on Saturday said that NH&MP officers and National Highway Authority (NHA) are working on clearing the Murree Expressway. “Please don’t travel to Murree, snowfall has started again”, he said in a tweet. He added there was congestion in Murree and on Expressway. People in hotels for the night have come out on the roads, he said, adding that new vehicles are not being allowed to go to Murree.
Inspector General Motorway Police said that carbon monoxide is odourless, very hard to detect, and can quickly cause death. “If God forbid your car is stuck in the snow and you have the engine running, open a window slightly and clear snow away from the exhaust silencer pipe”, he advised.
Islamabad police officers and youths are also present to help the citizens in the Bhara Kahu area where the tourists who were lost or stranded on the roads due to broken-down vehicles.
Shuttle service launched
The District Regional Transport Authority (RTA) has started a shuttle service to rescue stranded tourists in Murree, said RTA Secretary Rashid Ali.
The service is being run from Lower Topa to Bhara Kahu since Saturday afternoon, he said. “If we are unable to rescue vehicles of tourists, we are shifting them to safe places through this shuttle service,” he said, adding that they would continue this service until all tourists are rescued.
The weather system producing rain and snowfall has started weakening and weather will remain clear in most parts of the country during the next few days. “There will be no significant rain and snowfall during the next few days and the weather will be cold and dry,” Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) Spokesperson Dr Zaheer Ahmed Babar told APP on Saturday.
The country has witnessed two back-to-back weather events during which intermittent rain and snowfall continued for many days. The PMD has already issued forecast of extreme weather conditions, heavy falls, and snowfall and advised authorities concerned to remain alert, he said.
“Snowfall in Murree occurs every year and we issue alerts, but tourists belonging to the plain areas usually could not determine the severity of the weather situation and throng these destinations along with their families,” said Dr Babar. WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM APP
Published in The Express Tribune, January 9th, 2022.