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At Least 17 Sufi Muslim Pilgrims Killed As Ferry Capsizes Off Pakistani Coast

Sufi Muslims worshiping at a shrine in Pakistan
Sufi Muslims worshiping at a shrine in Pakistan

At least 17 people have been killed and dozens wounded after a ferry capsized during heavy winds in waters off the coast of southern Pakistan, officials say.

The boat carrying more than 60 people was ferrying passengers to a popular Sufi Muslim shrine on an island off the coast of Sindh Province on December 7 when it overturned amid heavy winds near the ancient city of Thatta, police officials said.

Officials said devotees from the cities of Karachi, Hyderabad, and Thatta were heading to the shrine of a Sufi saint, Pir Patha, which is highly revered among Bohra Muslims, a community concentrated in Karachi and other cities in Sindh Province.

An annual festival to celebrate the birth anniversary of the saint was being held at the shrine.

The 17 killed included women and children, and more than 50 others were pulled from the sea alive, the officials said. More than 35 of those rescued were injured and at least 20 others are still missing, they said.

Police officials said the boat may have been overloaded because many people participate in rituals at the shrine on Thursdays.

Hundreds of shrines -- many that are centuries old -- dot Pakistan, where several million Muslims are believed to still follow Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam.

Visiting shrines to pray and offer alms to the poor is very popular, and many believe it will help to get their prayers answered.

Based on reporting by AFP, dpa, Geo News, and the Express Tribune