ISLAMABAD: Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said on Wednesday his government had taken action against 15 senior officials who were found guilty of negligence by an inquiry commission probing the deaths of snow-tourists at a popular Pakistani resort town earlier this month.
The five-member committee was set up by the provincial administration last week after 23 people, including women and children, lost their lives amid a snowstorm in Murree.
Most of the victims suffered hypothermia as temperatures fell to -8°C (17.6°F). Officials said some died of carbon monoxide poisoning from running their car heaters while their mufflers were choked by snow.
The committee finished its investigation on Sunday and presented its report to the province's chief executive earlier today.
"In light of the committee's recommendations, we are taking action against 15 officials," Buzdar said in a televised announcement. "Among them, we have suspended the Rawalpindi division commissioner and sent him to the federal administration with a recommendation of a disciplinary action."
Other officials held responsible for the tragedy included Rawalpindi's deputy and assistant commissioners, city police officer, chief traffic officer and the director of Punjab's provincial disaster management authority.
The provincial administration also took action against several administrative officials based in Murree, including the resort town's assistant commissioner, assistant superintendent police, divisional forest officer, district emergency officer and in-charge of the Rescue 1122 service.
"I had promised the nation to conduct a transparent inquiry into the Murree tragedy and bring those responsible to justice," the chief minister continued. "I also went there [Murree] myself to evaluate the situation. And now I have fulfilled my promise."
The inquiry committee compiled its findings after recording statements of tourists along with administrative officials belonging to various government departments.
The Islamabad High Court recently blamed the entire government machinery for the tragedy, pointing out there were not enough preparations in place to deal with such an emergency while specifically blaming the National Disaster Management Authority for the oversight.