The Office of the Prime Minister said in a statement on Thursday night (March 21) that Abdul Mahdi had declared the period of mourning across Iraq and at the representative offices of Iraq abroad.

Abdul Mahdi also ordered an immediate investigation into the incident.

The Nineveh Provincial Council is expected to hold an extraordinary meeting to discuss the incident.

Head of High Judicial Council Fayaq Zidan said arrest warrants had been issued for the owners of the tourist facility and the ferry.

Zidan added that nine people who worked on the ferry had been arrested.

At least 79 people died when an overloaded ferry carrying families on an outing sank in the Tigris river in Mosul in northern Iraq.

Most of the casualties on the ferry were women and children who could not swim, said the head of Mosul’s Civil Defence Authority Husam Khalil.

He 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.

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.