A heavy winter storm in Pakistan left 22 people dead on Saturday after more than four feet of snow trapped motorists in their cars overnight.
The storm swept through the area surrounding the mountain resort Murree Hills on Friday and trapped thousands of cars on local roads, the Associated Press reported, citing information from government officials.
Most of the victims died of hypothermia as temperatures plummeted to 17.6 degrees Fahrenheit overnight, while others may have died from carbon monoxide poisoning after leaving their vehicles on for hours while they were inside.
Ten men, 10 children and two women died in total, rescue services physician Abdur Rehman said, per the AP. Among the dead are a police officer from the capital city of Islamabad and seven members of his family.
Videos shared on Twitter show vehicles completely inundated by the weather and iced in by snow on the mountain road. Some travelers seemed to have left their vehicles and walked away from the gridlock.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed confirms atleast 16-19 deaths of tourists stuck in snow/snowstorm
•Roads: Isbd-Murree closed till Sunday night
•Civil Armed Forces called-in to help #Murree
:Stranded Tourists, esp. women+children directed to nearby #PakArmy camp pic.twitter.com/RnOpRg2CAr
— Developing Pakistan (@developingpak) January 8, 2022
The government deployed paramilitary and special military units to respond to the disaster and freed thousands of vehicles, but were still attempting to free more than a thousand others as of late Saturday afternoon, according to the AP.
“Unprecedented snowfall & rush of ppl proceeding without checking weather conditions caught district admin unprepared,” he wrote on Saturday. “Have ordered inquiry & putting in place strong regulation to ensure prevention of such tragedies.”
Shocked & upset at tragic deaths of tourists on road to Murree. Unprecedented snowfall & rush of ppl proceeding without checking weather conditions caught district admin unprepared. Have ordered inquiry & putting in place strong regulation to ensure prevention of such tragedies.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) January 8, 2022
The U.S. was also hit by a heavy winter storm on Monday, when up to 11 inches of snow fell along the Mid-Atlantic region. Hundreds of people were left stranded on a roughly 50-mile stretch of I-95 overnight as a result of the storm.