LAHORE, Pakistan – Asif Ali Zardari, co-chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and former president of Pakistan, criticised the federal government for the deaths of citizens in the Murree tragedy.

While extending his sympathy and condolences to the bereaved families in Murree, he stated that the occurrence was extremely painful and that he, too, shares the dead families’ anguish.

He went on to remark that the government’s reluctance to act quickly is repugnant. Innocent persons were killed as a result of the government’s ineptitude.

The preliminary report of the unfortunate occurrence in Murree was delivered to Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Sardar Usman Bazdar on January 8.

According to reports, the data given to the Punjab Chief Minister stated that Murree has a parking capacity of 32,000 automobiles, however more than 72,000 vehicles entered Murree on Thursday.

According to the report, the tourists stopped their automobiles on the side of the road after their parking space ran out.

Authorities stated earlier that at least 22 people died in a massive traffic gridlock caused by tens of thousands of holidaymakers flocking to Murree to observe unusually heavy snowfall.

Police said that at least eight people had died from exposure in their automobiles, while it was unclear whether others had died from asphyxiation after breathing exhaust fumes from snow-bound vehicles.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said the military had been called in to clear roads and rescue thousands of people still trapped near Murree, around 70 kilometres (45 miles) northeast of Islamabad.

Social media videos showed cars packed bumper to bumper, with one-metre-high (three-foot) snow heaps on their roofs. “The heavy snowfall produced a traffic gridlock and road closures,” said Babar Khan, a visitor who had been stranded for hours. “Roads were also stopped in various locations owing to falling trees.”

The National Weather Forecasting Centre’s website predicted significant snowfall in the area till Sunday afternoon, while Information Minister Fawad Chaudry said “decades” of weather records had been broken in the last 48 hours.

The Punjab province chief minister’s office classified the surrounding area a “disaster area” and encouraged people to avoid it.

Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan expressed sorrow and outrage at the tragedy. “Unprecedented snowfall & rush of people proceeding without verifying weather conditions caught district admin off guard,” he wrote on Twitter. “I have launched an investigation and am putting in place strict regulations to ensure that similar tragedies do not occur again.”

Authorities issued a warning last weekend that there were too many vehicles attempting to enter Murree, but this did not deter swarms of daytrippers from the city. “Not only visitors, but also the local community, are experiencing terrible hardships,” Usman Abbasi, another trapped traveller, explained.

“Gas cylinders have run out, and drinking water isn’t available in most regions because it’s either frozen or the water pipes have been damaged by the extreme weather.” He claimed that hotels were running out of food and that cell phone connection was spotty. “Everyone is in a terrible condition.”

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