Murree’s main communication arteries cleared for all types of movement: ISPR

Calamity hit Murree, More than 500 families rescued, taken to safety

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MURREE: All the main communication arteries of Murree and it’s vicinity on Sunday were cleared for all types of move by the Pakistan Army engineers including the Kuldana – Barian Road.

After clearance of main roads, army engineers were now focusing road links, said an Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) news release.

The Army relief camps and medical facilitates were fully operating and army transport was plying for moving of stranded tourists to Rawalpindi and Islamabad, it said.

The Punjab Police on Sunday said that more than 500 families in the calamity hit Murree were rescued and taken to safety in the last 24 hours, after at least 22 tourists stranded in their vehicles during a snowstorm died on Friday night.

According to police officials, all major highways in Murree have been cleared for traffic and about 600 to 700 vehicles were evacuated from the town last night.

Officials further stated that Rawalpindi police, district administration and the Pakistan Army soldiers remained active throughout the night.

“Heavy snowfall on Murree’s main highways caused 20 to 25 large trees to fall which had blocked roads. All tourists were rescued before nightfall and taken to safe places,” said Punjab Police spokesperson.

Regional Police Officer Rawalpindi Ashfaq Khan, CPO Rawalpindi Sajid Kayani, Chief Traffic Officer Taimur Khan and Deputy Superintendent of police Murree remained engaged in the operation till late hours of the night.

Punjab police announced that the Lower Topa Express Highway from Jhika Gali; Lawrence College from Jhika Gali and the RMK road from Kuldana were clear for traffic.

However, traffic coming from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) to Murree was closed.

“More than a thousand Rawalpindi Police and Traffic Police personnel took part in the rescue operation,” the police stated.

The spokesperson said that the officials are present on roads from Islamabad to Murree, which will remain closed today (Sunday).

He added that staff at public and private hospitals in Murree are also on alert to deal with any emergencies.

Chief Minister Punjab, Sardar Usman Buzdar on Sunday conducted an aerial inspection of the areas of Murree, affected due to heavy snowfall.

The minister reviewed the relief activities being carried out in the affected areas and also observed the relief operation.

CM Buzdar was also briefed about the relief activities by the relief commissioner/senior member Board of Revenue during his visit.

Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat, Special Assistant to CM Punjab on Information Hassan Khawar, Chief Secretary, IG Police and other officers concerned were also present.

“Every Pakistani is saddened by the tragic incident that took place in Murree. All sympathies of the Punjab government are with the families of the deceased,” CM Buzdar said, paying his condolences to the bereaved families.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Sunday mentioned that “all main communication arteries” were cleared for all types of movement as the rescue operation in Murree continued.

According to the military media wing’s press release, “after clearance of main roads, army engineers are now focusing [on] road links.”

The statement further added that relief camps and medical facilitates are fully operational and the army transport is working to move stranded tourists from Murree to Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

The Punjab government on Sunday has decided to pay Rs800,000 to families of those killed in the Murree tragedy on Friday night.

A meeting was held under the chairmanship of Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar after he conducted an aerial inspection of the areas of Murree affected due to heavy snowfall.

Provincial Law Minister Raja Basharat, Punjab Government Spokesperson Hasaan Khawar, chief secretary of Punjab, senior member of the Board of Revenue Punjab, commissioner Rawalpindi, and inspector general Punjab Police were also present in the meeting.

It was decided during the meeting that the Punjab government will provide financial assistance to the families of those killed in the Murree tragedy.

Sources said that Rs176 million has been approved in the meeting for the families of those killed in the resort town, under which Rs800, 000 will be given to each of the 22 victim’s families.

Immediate financial assistance of Rs33.5 million has also been sanctioned for those who lost their lives in yesterday’s rains.

The meeting also took a detailed look at the causes of the tragedy and decided to form a high-level inquiry committee headed by the additional chief secretary home.

The committee will determine the perpetrators of negligence within seven days and action against those found guilty will also be taken within a week.

The meeting further decided to upgrade the administrative structure of Murree and give it the status of a district.

In Murree, the additional deputy commissioner and superintendent of police were deployed to construct small links per road for traffic jams.

Taking to his official Twitter handle, the provincial government spokesperson said: “We will complete the investigation in every aspect in the light of the instructions of the prime minister.”

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