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Trapped passengers face suffocation inside Lowari tunnel

DROSH, Feb 22: Due to mismanagement, about 200 vehicles were reported to be stuck up inside the under-construction Lowari tunnel on Saturday evening. lowariMany of the passengers were suffocated inside the tunnel. Seven of the passengers have been brought to the THQ hospital in Drosh where an emergency has been declared. Out of the patients, four were admitted and being treated. They were identified as Amir Wali, his wife and a son; Meraj Ali, all residents of Mastuj, and Ibrahim, a driver from Dir. Four other passengers were discharged and could not be identified. Engineer Tanvirul Haq told ChitralToday that he was going to Peshawar but after reaching the tunnel he changed his plan and returned to Drosh. He said he saw thick smoke from the tunnel and people running out of the passageway barefooted and coughing due to the smoke inside. He said on Saturday the security forces manning the tunnel had allowed both-way traffic inside the tunnel which caused the pile-up. Earlier, it had been made a routine that first the traffic going out of Chitral was allowed to pass the tunnel and then it was the turn of the Chitral-bound vehicles coming from different down cities to use the passageway. Due to the two-way traffic, some vehicles broke down in the middle of the tunnel blocking the way and resulting in the piling up, he added. However, a fruit trader from Drosh told ChitralToday from Timargarah that he had crossed the tunnel smoothly and reached Timargarah at about 5pm. But the pile-up, according to Engineer Tanvir, started at about 6pm inside the tunnel and was continuing when he returned to Drosh. It was also reported that security forces had started evacuating the people from inside the tunnel. The residents of Chitral have already expressed concerns over the absence of safety measures inside the tunnel. A slight mishandling of the traffic can lead to a major incident, they feared.]]>

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