According to official reports, 22 people, including 10 children, died in a mountain resort town of Pakistan after being stranded in their cars overnight during a heavy snowstorm.
Hypothermia was the leading cause of death for the victims, according to officials. An Islamabad police officer and seven members of his immediate family were among the victims, Pakistan police said.
Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, the Interior Minister, said thousands of cars were stuck on roadways after more than 4 feet (1 meter) of snow fell at the Murree Hills resort overnight Friday and early Saturday.
According to Umar Maqbool, assistant commissioner for the town of Murree, the snowfall was so severe that heavy equipment brought in to clear it got stuck during the night. The temperature dropped to minus 8 degrees Celsius (17.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
Pakistan military called
Military mountain units and paramilitary troops were called in to help. As of Saturday night, thousands of vehicles had been towed from the snow, but more than a thousand were still stuck.
As of late Saturday, the snow had mostly been cleared from most of the resort roads, and troops were clearing the rest, Maqbool said. Army-run schools were converted into relief camps so that the rescued tourists could receive shelter and food.
Many people died of hypothermia when they were trapped in their snowed-in vehicles despite being provided with food and blankets by emergency workers. Pakistan rescue services physician Abdur Rehman said that others may have died of carbon monoxide poisoning after running their cars heaters for long periods of time.
According to Rehman, as of late Saturday, 10 men, 10 children, and two women had died.
In one case, a husband and wife and their two children were all killed in their car. Meanwhile, four young friends also lost their lives together.
Murree is a popular winter resort town 28 miles (46 kilometres) north of Islamabad that attracts more than a million tourists every year. In winter, snow often prevents vehicles from entering the town.
Source: The Associated Press