Tragedy In Murree

20 tourists that were left stranded in their vehicles during a snowstorm in Murree died and regretfully, it is feared that the death toll will only rise further as the ongoing rescue mission concludes. This speaks volumes of the gross negligence displayed by the authorities and the tourism industry alike. Needless to say, an inquiry into the matter is required so that questions pertaining to the lack of warnings, restrictions and accommodations can be answered.

Murree has always been an attractive travel destination for local tourists, especially during the holiday season. As of late however, the region has been overburdened by tourists who travel in throngs. Warnings were issued that it was operating beyond its capacity as 50,000 cars flooded an area only capable of facilitating 4000. All concerned authorities were urged to practice responsible tourism and redirect the flow of traffic to surrounding areas or to impose restrictions that limited the inflow of people into Murree.

Over 125,000 vehicles entered the city on Friday, causing a severe traffic jam that left countless sitting idle in their place. The excitement of witnessing snow quickly turned into dread as a fresh snowstorm led the temperatures to plummet below freezing temperatures, causing the stranded individuals to eventually succumb to death.

Surely the authorities must have been more vigilant about the matter considering that the snowstorm had been predicted well before and there was already enough awareness about the fact that it was becoming increasingly impossible for the local administration to facilitate such a large number of tourists.

It was essential that warnings were issued and travel restrictions were put in place before such an incident occurred. While the authorities have employed the help of the army, heavy machinery to clear the roads and helicopters for the rescue mission, there is still a long way to go.

With the weather as unstable as it is, we cannot be certain of how protective these measures are. While an investigation is launched into the matter, it is vital to learn from this deadly mishap and enforce new and protective policies. The government and those berating the victims at this should also look to introspect and recognise the state’s responsibility in all of this.

At the same time, tourists must also be cautious themselves especially when prior reports about congestion were already circulating.

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