Tourists question blizzard tragedy in scenic Pakistan town


In nearby Kuldana, about 5,000 people were taken in at the Army School of Logistics on Friday night.

"It was like a natural disaster," said Major Muhammad Umar. "There was no electricity, no gas, no telephone, nothing working."

Eleven-year-old Arosh Yasir, warming up by a gas fire with his family, said they spent the night in their car on Friday before being rescued the following morning.

"Our food was cold and there was no way back or forward," he told AFP.

"I started crying and praying."

Many Pakistanis complained on social media that hoteliers had pushed up prices to capitalise on stranded customers, prompting them to sleep in cars.

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Arosh said on Saturday hotels were "either very expensive or had no space", forcing them into the army camp.

On Sunday afternoon, the rescue effort had largely morphed to a repair and salvage operation, aided by steady sunshine winnowing away snowdrifts.

Workmen clambered mountainside pylons to knock free iced electricity wires, whilst others crowded around open car bonnets trying to coax engines back to life.

Some vehicles still remained abandoned under vast snowbanks, forcing ploughs to slalom the precarious mountain tracks.

Among clear spots in the ice were small scatterings of empty water bottles and snackfood packaging, marking where many tourists spent Friday night in their cars.

"It was my worst experience," said 21-year-old Aafia Ali, a visitor from Karachi among the party taking shelter at Ratti Gali.

Several Pakistani newspapers published scathing articles on Sunday, attacking authorities for failing to close off the area despite ample warning of heavy snow.

That sentiment was shared among those preparing to make their way off the mountain.

"The management of this area, they are responsible for this," said Aafia Ali.

Artmotion Asia

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