Published: Thu, March 21, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

At least 40 killed in Iraq in Tigris River ferry accident

At least 40 killed in Iraq in Tigris River ferry accident

At least 72 people died when an overloaded ferry sank in the Tigris river near Mosul in Iraq, medical sources told Reuters on Thursday.

Local information account Mosul Eye has tweeted an "urgent appeal" for people to go down to the river and help with the rescue.

Almost 150 people, including 80 women and children, were on board the boat that was destined for a popular tourist island in Mosul as part of the Kurdish New Year celebrations, AP News reports.

Reconstruction of Mosul, much of which was destroyed in a military campaign to recapture the city from Islamic State militants in 2017, has barely begun and is haphazard.

Mosul Mayor Zuhair Araji said the vessel had "reached its capacity", possibly causing it to succumb, according to Kurdistan24.

The death toll from the accident, which residents said was the worst in recent memory, was expected to rise as people waited on the banks of the Tigris for news of loved ones.

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Images on social media show the upturned vessel and people floating in the water.

The water level on the Tigris was high because of a rainy season that brought more precipitation than in previous years. Thirty-three women, 12 children and 10 men are confirmed dead, with many more missing, the civil defense authority said.

Saudi Aziz, a 23-year-old Kurd, said he was on another ferry crossing the river.

The small boat, which was carrying people to a popular picnic area, was believed to be carrying around 150 people when it overturned.

"I can not describe the scene, it's a catastrophe", he said. People across the region are celebrating Nowruz, the Kurdish New Year festival. It is celebrated across territories that once made up the ancient Persian empire, stretching from the Middle East to Central Asia.

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