Nearly 100 dead in Iraq as overloaded ferry sinks

Mosul | Almost 100 people have been killed in the Tigris river in the city of Mosul in Iraq, after an overpopulated boat sinks in the river.

At least 19 children and 61 women were among the 94 people said to have died, and 55 people were rescued.

It is estimated that nearly 200 people were on board.

The vessel was on its way to Umm Rabaen island, a tourist area about 4km (2.5 miles) upstream and north of the city centre. People across the region were celebrating Nowruz, the new year festival.

Most of them were women and children who could not swim, said Mosul’s Civil Defence Authority. The boat usually carries 50 people, however, on the said day, about 250 people were on board, way above the limit.

“It was carrying too many passengers, so the water began to rush onboard and the ferry became heavier and overturned,” one passenger told AFP news agency. “With my own eyes, I saw dead children in the water.”

The Tigris river is usually tame, but authorities had warned about the rising level of water in the river due to the opening of gates in the Mosul dam.

Many are accusing the vessel operators of ignoring the advice.

Iraq has reportedly ordered the arrest if nine workers in the company, the owners and accused are barred from leaving the country.

Footage of the incident has been circulating in social media. The video shows the boat tilting to the extreme right, completely turning over, and getting dragged by the downstream currents.

Helicopters and Ambulances have arrived on the spot to search for the missing bodies. The rescue operation is still underway.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi meanwhile has ordered an investigation “to determine responsibilities”.

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