Iraq: 100 feared dead as ferry sinks during Kurdish holiday

Ferry carrying nearly 200 people sinks in Iraq's Tigris River during celebrations marking Kurdish holiday. Roughly 100 people killed.

David Rosenberg ,

Relatives of victims killed in ferry accident mourn outside Mosul morgue
Relatives of victims killed in ferry accident mourn outside Mosul morgue

Some 100 people were killed Thursday afternoon in Iraq, when a river ferry capsized outside of an amusement park during a Kurdish holiday.

The incident occurred on the Tigris River, by the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, when passengers swamped a river ferry, overloading the vessel and causing it to capsize.

According to a report by the BBC, the ferry, which has a capacity of up to 50 passengers, was swamped with roughly 200 people at the time of the accident.

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

The ferry had been heading towards the Umm Rabaen Island in the Tigris River which is popular with tourists.

As many as 100 people are believed to have been killed in the accident, including 19 children and 61 women. A total of 94 fatalities have been confirmed, with 55 people rescued.

The disaster comes as members of the local Kurdish community celebrated the holiday of Nowruz, marking the Kurdish new year.

In response to the incident, Iraqi authorities issued arrest warrants for nine employees of the company which operated the ferry. In addition, the owners of the ferry have been barred from leaving the country, pending the completion of an investigation into the accident.