At least 16 people have died after heavy snow trapped them in their vehicles as tens of thousands of visitors thronged Pakistan’s hill town of Murree, officials have said.
Atiq Ahmed, an Islamabad police officer said eight of the 16 fatalities were from the family of fellow Islamabad police officer Naveed Iqbal, who also died. All 16 died of hypothermia, officials said.
The interior minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, said thousands of vehicles had been pulled from the snow but more than a thousand were still stuck in the area on Saturday.
Murree, 28 miles (45.5km) north of the capital of Islamabad, is a popular winter resort that attracts well over a million tourists annually.
Streets leading into the city are often blocked by snow in winter.
Ahmed said more than 4ft (1.2 meters) of snow fell in the area overnight and all incoming traffic was blocked on Saturday.
The minister said paramilitary troops and a special military mountain unit had been called in to help.
“Until then no vehicle or even people on foot are allowed to enter Murree except for the emergency and rescue vehicles and those bringing food for the stuck people,” he said.
Umar Maqbool, a local administrator, said the heavy snowfall hampered rescue efforts during the night and heavy equipment brought in to clear the snow got stuck initially.
Officials gave no further details about those who had died in their stuck vehicles but said they were working on both recovery and rescue operations.
Food and blankets were distributed to the stuck tourists.