ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Thursday said it was deeply saddened and grieved the loss of lives lost in the ferry incident in Iraq which killed at least 80 people.
“Government and people of Pakistan are deeply saddened and grieved on the tragic loss of precious lives, including women and children, in unfortunate capsizing of a ferry near Mosul, on the beginning of Nourooz celebrations,” Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal said on Twitter.
He added, “We join bereaved families, people and government of Iraq in this hour of sorrow and grief. Our prayers are with them. May Almighty Allah bless the departed souls with highest places in Jannah and grant strength and fortitude to their families to bear this irreparable loss.”
At least 80 people died on Thursday when an overloaded ferry carrying families on an outing sank in the Tigris river in Mosul in northern Iraq, with most of the casualties on the ferry being women and children who could not swim.
Head of Mosul’s Civil Defence Authority Husam Khalil said the ferry had been loaded to several times its capacity. “It can normally carry 50 people. There were 250 on board before the incident,” he said.
Five ferry workers were arrested after late on Thursday, security sources said. Rescue workers were still looking for missing passengers.
The boat was ferrying people to a man-made island used as a recreational area by families, according to one witness.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi ordered an inquiry into the accident and said on Twitter that those responsible would be held accountable.
Mobile phone footage showed the ferry sinking into the muddy water and people shouting for help. Among the dead were some 19 children and at least 52 women, medical sources said.
The accident took place to the north of the city, near a recreational area popular with families.