RAWALPINDI: A five-member committee announced by the Punjab government to investigate the causes and lapses that led to the death of 22 tourists during a snowstorm in Murree hills formally started working on Monday.

The committee — led by Additional Chief Secretary Home Zafar Nasrullah and assisted by provincial government secretaries Ali Sarfraz and Asad Gillani, Additional Inspector General of Punjab Police Farooq Mazhar and an opted member — is likely to reach Murree in the next two days to proceed with the investigation.

The committee has been tasked with completing its report and det­er­­mining responsibility within seven days.

Tourists banned from entering resort town for another 24 hours

On the other hand, the federal government has extended the ban on entry into Murree hills for the next 24 hours due to ongoing rescue operations in the surrounding areas, according to a statement released on Monday. The residents of Murree and its surrounding areas will be free from the ban.

In a statement, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said: “The situation in Murree and its surrounding Galyat areas is continuously being assessed.” The decision to lift the ban on entry would be taken after reviewing the situation, he added.

According to sources, the committee members were in the provincial capital on Monday to possibly discuss the terms of reference and other things related to the investigation.

They said the committee would interview senior police and traffic officers, officials of the district administration, communication and works department, National Highway Authority, National Disaster Management Authority and Provincial Disaster Management Authority and other relevant people.

The committee would also review the record of phone calls made by the tourists to the emergency police number ‘15’ and Rescue 1122 and assess their response.

Meanwhile, the police claimed to have completed the rescue operation and cleared the roads in Murree. “All major roads have been cleared while some link roads will be cleared within the next 24 hours,” a senior police official said.

He said all the entry points to Murree remained closed for tourists by the district administration and special police check-points had been established to prevent outsiders from entering the area.

Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2022

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