03/27/2019, 18.26
IRAQ
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Card Sako expresses “deep sorrow" for boat accident near Mosul, offers prayers for victims

The cardinal led a prayer at St Paul’s Church at a service attended by the nuncio and many Christian and Muslim leaders. The Chaldean Church donated US$ 20,000 to the victims’ families. The prelate called for joint efforts achieve "security" and undertake the "process of reconstruction". He backs the creation of government task force.

Mosul (AsiaNews) – Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako spoke this morning during a prayer service for the people who lost their lives on 21 March when a boat sank in the Tigris River.

In his address, the Chaldean Patriarch shared "the deep sorrow" for the "huge loss" in Mosul and its residents. "We are here to reiterate our love, closeness and solidarity" to the families of the victims and the whole city.

Almost a hundred people died in the accident, which sparked widespread outrage. Iraq’s Parliament voted to oust the governor and his two deputies following a request from the prime minister.

The service was held this morning in Mosul’s St Paul’s Church amid flowers and lit candles. The Apostolic Nuncio to Iraq Mgr Alberto Ortega Martin attended the prayer service and read a personal message from Pope Francis.

Along with the prelate there were numerous Chaldean bishops and priests, as well as Muslim leaders and the three members of the crisis unit set up by Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.

The participants joined in a common prayer for the dead, asking for peace, security and stability in Iraq’s largest northern city, which is struggling to recover after it was held for years by the Islamic State group.

At the end of the service, the cardinal donated US$ 20,000 on behalf of the Chaldean Church to the government fund prepared for the victims and their families.

The passenger boat, which was packed with families and tourists celebrating Nowruz, the Kurdish New Year, was on its way to Umm Rabaen Island, a tourist location about 4 km north of Mosul.

Some videos show the boat suddenly tilting to the right, taking on water, and then capsizing before being dragged downstream by the rushing waters of the river. At least 97 people died with dozens more still missing.

The incident has sparked outrage against the country's highest office-holders. The government responded by sacking local officials to stem popular anger and avoid the rise of new jihadi groups.

In his message to AsiaNews, Card Sako appeals to political, social and religious leaders in Nineveh province to show "unity" for the "good" of Mosul and its people.

In such a time of tragedy, everyone hopes “for peace, security and stability " and for new impetus for the "process of reconstruction, away from political disputes, revenge and the politicisation of the incident,” writes the prelate.

For this reason, “The establishment of a ‘Task Force’ by the Iraqi prime minister is a positive sign. Therefore, we must cooperate”.

At the same, he hopes to see everyone in Iraq and abroad working together “to rebuild what was destroyed by ISIS, especially the right side of the city that is characterised by its’ historical features” and “encourage the return of displaced families.”

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