Four days after the Murree tragedy that took 22 lives, the search and rescue operation has been completed and routine order of life in the city is being gradually restored.
In the second phase of the operation, efforts to rescue tourists’ vehicles stuck in the snow have begun and a formal investigation into the incident has also been initiated. A grand plan will be drawn up before Murree reopens to tourists.
All tourists trapped in the snow have been evacuated and shifted to safer places. The search and rescue operation was carried out by Pakistan Army, Pakistan Air Force, Rescue 1122, Tourist Police, National Highway Authority and other agencies.
The process of removing snow from the main highways with heavy machinery provided by Pakistan Army has also been completed, while snow removal from link roads is under way.
In several villages of Murree, locals have been facing problems due to power outages and road closures for the past five days.
As soon as the rescue and search operation was completed, hotels, restaurants, markets and bazaars in Murree were allowed to reopen and resume business as usual.
According to the administration, the second phase of the operation has been started in which the vehicles sunk in the snow are being pulled out with the help of city traffic police, car lifters and cranes.
Thousands of tourists had left their vehicles on the main highways to flee from the natural calamity and to move to safer grounds.
All stranded vehicles will be taken into government custody initially, and the process of returning the vehicles to their owners will be started under a regulation.
The management said that the process of ensuring a safe return for tourists from Murree hotels to their homes was under way. Tourists are being sent to their hometowns by shuttle services and other means of transport.
Meanwhile, the committee formed to probe the Murree tragedy has started a formal investigation. A team headed by Additional Chief Secretary Zafar Nasrullah will present its report in seven days.
The administration said that after the Murree tragedy, the tourist destination has been closed till further notice to stop the influx of tourists.
A grand plan for the resumption of tourism in Murree will be drawn up once the main highways and access roads are cleared of snow.
The Meteorological Department has predicted more heavy snowfall and rain in Murree.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2022.