Thursday Jan 20, 2022
The Murree probe committee report has revealed that defective planning and delay in the decision-making process led to the tragic incident in which 23 tourists lost their lives after being stranded in their vehicles as a snowstorm hit Murree, Geo News reported.
Geo News has acquired the 27-page report of the probe committee, which was formed by the Punjab government to investigate the Murree incident.
According to the report, 32,000 vehicles had entered Murree and around 22,000 vehicles left the hill station on January 7, while in the next four days, 10,000 tourist vehicles were stuck in the area and the road to Galyat was closed with a delay of five hours.
The report further said that defective planning and late decisions became the main causes of the Murree tragedy, while the absence of machinery to remove fallen trees and snow from roads also added fuel to the fire.
Traffic staff sent to the hill station to control the situation was not aware of the snow forecast and there was a shortage of resources, while traffic police were busy seeking places to save themselves from heavy snowfall, the report said.
According to the probe committee report, rescue staff failed to arrange a crane on time to remove the snow, while officials remained busy with paperwork.
Before the tragedy took place, snowfall happened twice in the area and the roads suffered the ensuing traffic congestion but the hill station’s administration paid no heed, the report revealed.
It further said that on the morning of Friday, January 7, the situation in Murree started to deteriorate followed by a horrible traffic jam after Friday prayers.
The report said that even after severe traffic congestion, the entry of tourist vehicles was not stopped. The entry of vehicles was stopped after the situation had already gone out of control.
Deputy Commissioner and other high officials had reached Murree at night, while neither the rescue teams responded quickly nor could they help anyone in an organised way. Meanwhile, machinery to remove snow from roads were also stuck in the traffic jam, the probe committee stated in the report.
According to the report, the deputy commissioner (DC) and the chief police officer (CPO) had not issued any warning before January 7, while they both failed in making quick decisions.
The traffic plan was extremely good to the extent of papers while in practical terms, the police, especially the traffic police's performance, was worst, the report said.
It is worth mentioning that, according to official statistics, at least 23 people had died like thousands of tourist vehicles ended up being stranded in Murree due to heavy snowfall and ensuing road blockage.
The Punjab government had declared Murree as a calamity-hit area after heavy snowfall wreaked havoc on the city.
According to the local administration of Murree, rain and blizzards were forecast around Murree, with thunderstorms at a speed of 50-90 kmph and heavy snowfall.
Further, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) also reprimanded on Thursday the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and said it is responsible for the Murree tragedy.