Baghdad, (AFP) – Iraq’s prime minister decreed three days of national mourning Thursday as he visited the site of a river boat accident that cost at least 85 lives in the city of Mosul.
State television said Adel Abdel Mahdi also toured a hospital and morgue in the former jihadist bastion, where a ferry packed with families celebrating Kurdish New Year had sunk in the swollen Tigris.
At least 85 people died Thursday in northern Iraq when
the ferry boat they were on sank, a security official said, as rescue
operations were ongoing in the Tigris River’s fast-flowing waters.
Fifty-five other people, including 19 children, were saved, Iraqi
Prime Minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi said, according to the INA state news
agency. The dead included women and children, Abdel-Mahdi added.
Initially, Colonel Hossam Khalil, the civil defence chief in the
northern province of Nineveh, had said that at least 40 bodies were
retrieved after the boat capsized near the northern city of Mosul
The boat sank while it was carrying people celebrating Nowruz, which
marks the Kurdish New Year, witnesses said.
The tragedy, which took place near a tourist area, is believed to be
the result of the ship being overcrowded.
“The capacity of the boat was 50 people, but it sank because the
number of people aboard reached around 200,” Iraqi lawmaker
Abdel-Rehim al-Shamari said in a press statement.
Abdel-Mahdi ordered an “immediate” investigation into the accident
and the findings be reported in 24 hours, his office said in an
He vowed to bring those behind the mishap to justice and declared a
three-day mourning period for the victims.
A final tally of the victims is unlikely to be clear soon as
fast-flowing waters were believed to have carried them away, local
Water levels are also high in the Tigris as a result of heavy rains
over the last weeks, they added.
Mosul, the capital of Nineveh, was once the key stronghold of the
Islamic State militant group in Iraq.
In July 2017, then prime minister Haider al-Abadi declared that all
Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, had been retaken from Islamic
State after a devastating nine-month-old campaign.