Sunday Jan 09, 2022
ISLAMABAD: Minister for Interior Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed on Sunday said a ban on travel to Murree and Galiyat would continue for a further 24 hours, even as the authorities removed snow from all the major roads to normalise traffic at the hill station.
In a statement, the interior minister said that only the citizens of Murree and adjacent areas would be allowed to travel on these roads while showing their national identity cards.
He said that the situation of Murree and Galiyat is being monitored on a regular basis in the aftermath of the tragedy that saw the deaths of more than 20 people who died after being left stranded in their vehicles amid "unprecedented snowfall", as put by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Rasheed said that any decision to allow tourists to Murree and Galiyat would be made while considering the latest situation.
Earlier, a spokesperson for the Punjab police said that all the key arteries of the city have been cleared for traffic. Lawrence College Road and a section of the road between Jhika Gali and Lower Topa Express Highway have been reopened for traffic, he added.
The spokesperson, however, said that roads leading to Murree from Islamabad and Rawalpindi will remain closed today. He said that police officials have been deployed on the roads to stop tourists from moving towards the hill station amid the current weather situation.
During the last 24 hours, over 500 families have been shifted to safe sites from the snow-hit tourist destination, the police said, adding that over 600 vehicles have been evacuated from the hill station till last night.
Meanwhile, sharing a video of Murree roads on his Twitter handle, Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) Shahbaz Gill confirmed that all key arteries of the hill station have been cleared to traffic.
Paying tribute to the personnel of the Pakistan Army, officials of the district administration, Rawalpindi police and the local volunteers for clearing the roads overnight, Gill said that 600 to 700 vehicles had been evacuated from the hill station till last night (Saturday).
In a statement, Murree’s DSP traffic said that all stranded tourists were rescued last night. He, too, confirmed that all roads in Murree have been cleared for traffic.
The police officer said that the vehicles stuck in snow have been shifted to safe sites, adding that they have been facing difficulty in removing snow from the roads due to the vehicles. The road between Klidna and Barian will be reopened for traffic today, he added.
According to a statement released by the Inter-Services Public Relations, all main communication arteries in Murree have been cleared for all types of traffic.
Per the statement, major roads, including Kuldana and Barian, have also been cleared for traffic. After the clearance of main roads, army engineers are now focusing on road links.
Meanwhile, relief camps and medical facilitates are operating at full capacity and the army transport is moving stranded tourists to Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
A day earlier, following the federal government's decision to deploy personnel of the Pakistan Army and other civil-armed forces for rescue operations in snow-hit Murree, the army rescued more than 300 people, including children, the Inter-Services Public Relation (ISPR) had said.
The rescued people were provided medical care by a team of army doctors and paramedics, the military's media wing had said.
According to a statement, cooked meals had been served to more than 1,000 stranded people in Jhika Gali, Kashmiri Bazar, Lower Topa and Kuldana.
ISPR had said that the stranded people had been accommodated and provided shelter with meals and tea at Military College Murree, Supply Depot, APS and Army Logistics School Kuldana.
Following week-long extreme weather conditions, Murree saw sunlight for the first time in almost seven days on Sunday.
The hill station continues to recover from the snowstorm tragedy in which more than 20 tourists, mostly trapped in their cars, died.
However, a day after the tragic incident, the authorities have removed snow from all major roads to normalise traffic at the hill station. Snow, however, could not be removed from the roads in the upper areas of Murree.
Electricity was restored in urban areas of the hill station last night, while the rural areas have been without power for four days. The snowstorm affected the mobile phone services in the area, while internet services are still suspended in Murree.
According to a spokesperson of the Galiyat Development Authority, snow has been removed from the road between Nathia Gali and Abbottabad, adding that the road between Nathia Gali and Barrian has been reopened for traffic. He maintained that an operation was underway to remove snow from all the streets in Galiyat.
After sprinkling salt on the snow and slippery roads, the stranded tourists will be allowed to leave for their destinations, he added. No more tourists will be allowed to enter Galiyat till further orders, the spokesperson added.