LAHORE, Jan 08 (APP): Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said on Saturday that during last 48 hours record snowfall in Murree and its suburbs and extraordinary rush of tourists caused traffic jam in the area which resulted in tragic loss of precious human lives.
Addressing a press conference along with Minister for Education and Technical Training Shafqat Mehmood and Special Assistant to PM on Youth Affairs here, he said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had taken stern notice of the situation and directed Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar to reach Murree who had left for the hill station.
Due to heavy snowfall, he said the situation had deteriorated, more difficult situation had arisen in Kuldana and Barrian, and unfortunately precious human lives had also been lost in these areas.
He said that the local administration, rescue agencies were present in Murree and adjoining areas, and now five Army platoons had also joined the operations and FWO machinery had been involved.
For a week now, minister said Murree administration and the Punjab government had been warning the tourists that the weather conditions in Murree and the upper areas were not good and the tourists should refrain from traveling there.
He said that the Murree- Islamabad Expressway has been cleared and evacuation of stranded people was underway.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has also opened all avenues from Nathia Gali, Fawad said.The Punjab government has also opened all the guest houses for the affected people, he said.
However he said that if such a large number of tourists would throng these areas in a short time, problems would arise.
He stated that it was difficult for any administration to handle such a sudden situation.
He appealed to media that as a strong forum it should inform the people about the situation in the upper areas, where there was a lot of rush and there was no room for more people.
“We want to promote tourism but it does not mean that such a large number of people can reach tourist resorts within 48 hours,” said the minister.
The minister said the government was fully alert, and it stood with the people and the situation was improving and process of evacuation has been started.
He said that the entire nation regretted loss of lives in Murree and adjoining areas.
Replying to the media questions he said that such a large number of vehicles did not reach the upper areas in weeks or months but within 48 hours which created problems. He said that all humanly possible measures were taken by the administration to address the situation.
The administration had taken emergency measures, but all should realize that such a situation should not arise. He said this was a novel situation in Pakistan as in the past such influx of tourists was never witnessed and we should learn from this incident to avoid such incidents in future.
He said that economic situation of the country has improved in the recent past and tens of thousands of people moved to upper areas for tourism.
Tourism should not be discouraged, the government wanted to promote tourism, he replied to a question.
Answering a question he said that PTI MNA Sadaqat Abbasi was currently in Murree and supervising rescue operations.