At least 71 killed as overloaded ferry sinks in Iraq's Tigris river

Ferry sinks in Iraq's Tigris River 93 people feared dead

At least 54 people died when an overcrowded ferry carrying families sank Thursday in a swollen river in northern Iraq during Kurdish New Year celebrations, officials said.

Smaller boats have been rescuing people stranded on the island after the ferry capsized.

The overloaded ferry went down near the city of Mosul on Thursday as scores of people were out in a tourist area celebrating Nowruz, an ancient Persian festival.

Footage shared on social media showed people shouting for help as others gathered near the river bank.

Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi decreed three days of national mourning as he visited the site of the tragedy.

No accurate figures are available yet about the number of people the ferry was carrying when the accident happened, reports Xinhua news agency. He said more than 80 were on the ferry when it sank.

Iraqi people walk near the Tigris River in Mosul.

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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.

The ferry was overloaded with more than 100 people, the source said, adding that the ferry was originally created to carry some 30 people.

Police and medical sources said earlier at least 40 people had drowned.

The river has swelled further too after a rainy season that brought more precipitation than in previous years.

Emergency rescue teams on March 21, 2019 at the site where a ferry sank in Iraq's Tigris river. "With my own eyes I saw dead children in the water". "With pain and sadness, we follow up the ferry incident in the city of Mosul, which killed dozens of innocent women, men and children", Abdul Mahdi said in a statement issued by his office. He said the ferry which capsized was overloaded with people.

"I can not describe the scene, it's a catastrophe", he said.

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