At least 22 people who were stuck in their vehicles have died after temperatures fell to minus 8C (17.6F) during heavy snowfall at Pakistan’s mountain resort town of Murree, officials said.
Atiq Ahmed, an Islamabad police officer, said eight of the 22 fatalities were from the family of fellow Islamabad police officer Naveed Iqbal, who also died.
Most of the victims died of hypothermia, officials said.
Rescue services physician Abdur Rehman said that after evacuating all of the stranded tourists from their cars, the death toll stood at 22, including 10 men, 10 children and two women.
Interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said thousands of vehicles had been pulled from the snow but more than a thousand were still stuck in the area on Saturday.
Located 28 miles north of the capital of Islamabad, Murree is a popular winter resort that attracts more than a million tourists annually. Streets leading into the city are often blocked by snow in winter.
The interior minister said more than four feet of snow fell in the area overnight and all incoming traffic was blocked on Saturday.
The minister said paramilitary troops and a special military mountain unit had been called in to help.
“Until then no vehicle or even people on foot are allowed to enter Murree except for the emergency and rescue vehicles and those bringing food for the stuck people,” he said.
Umar Maqbool, a local administrator, said the heavy snowfall hampered rescue efforts during the night and even heavy equipment brought in to clear the snow got stuck initially.
Officials said food and blankets were distributed to the stuck tourists.