Tens dead after ferry sinks in Mosul

Clay Curtis
March 22, 2019

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. Reuters said, citing police and medical sources, that at least 40 people died in the accident.

Most of the casualties on the ferry were women and children who could not swim, according to Saif al-Badr, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health, who said they accounted for at least 45 of the dead. He said 30 people were rescued, adding that search operations were still under way and it was not known how many people were onboard the ferry.

Videos showed a number of people struggling to stay afloat amid floating bodies in the fast-flowing water in the Tigris, which appeared engorged. The usually tame Tigris is running high this time of year, fed by snowmelt from mountains in Turkey.

Numerous victims are women and children, according to the Mosul Eye, a blog that documents events in the city. "It can normally carry 50 people".

He said the ferry sank because of a technical problem, and that there weren't many boats in the area to rescue people.

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

The U.S. Embassy said Charge d'Affaires Joey Hood and the entire mission "express our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives in the tragic ferry accident on the Tigris River near Mosul".

It is the most important event in the Iranian calendar and is widely celebrated across the territories of the old Persian empire, from the Mideast to Central Asia.

Abdul-Zahra reported from Baghdad.

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