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Owners of Mosul ferry arrested following deadly accident

Authorities arrest suspects in Iraq's Kurdish region in response to disaster that killed over 100 people
Iraqi rescue team members rest near the site where a ferry sank in the Tigris River in Mosul (Reuters)

The owners of an overloaded ferry that capsized in the Tigris River to the east of Iraq's Mosul, killing over 100 people, have been arrested, Iraq’s judiciary said on Sunday.

Engineers who OKed the craft have also been seized by authorities, the Supreme Judicial Council said in a statement.

"The committee set up to investigate the sinking of the ferry announced the arrest of the boat's owners" along with three engineers who "had certified that it complied with regulations," the statement said.

The disaster struck on 21 March, when Iraqi families were gathering to celebrate Mother's Day and Nowruz, the Persian New Year.

Most of the victims were women and children, and the search for bodies continues as the swift current has swept many victims dozens of kilometres downriver.

They stuffed the boat with 200 people even though it is only fit for 70. It is crazy. Too many children have died because of this

- Iraqi mourner

The judiciary did not name the owners, who have been accused by Iraqis of corruption. According to the statement, the owners were caught by authorities in the Kurdish region.

“They are just trying to make money. It's like trying to fit 20 people into a car. How is that even possible?" one mourner told Middle East Eye following the accident.

"They stuffed the boat with 200 people even though it is only fit for 70. It is crazy. Too many children have died because of this."

The case has now been referred to a prosecutor and a panel of three judges, the statement said.

In response to the disaster, Iraq’s parliament voted to oust the governor of the local Ninevah province, Nawfal al-Akoub, who has faced much criticism.