Boat Sinks In Iraq, Killing Dozens During New Year Celebration

People follow the search and rescue operations around the site after a ferryboat sank in Iraq's Tigris River on Thursday, leaving dozens dead and more than 100 others injured.
People follow the search and rescue operations around the site after a ferryboat sank in Iraq's Tigris River on Thursday, leaving dozens dead and more than 100 others injured.
Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Updated at 11:50 a.m. ET

An amusement boat has sunk in the Tigris River, killing dozens of people in Iraq who were celebrating Nowruz, a joyous holiday marking the new year at the start of spring.

Video footage showed scores of people being carried away in the water's fast current as passengers on a nearby boat shout.

The interior ministry spokesperson says 71 people, including many children, are confirmed dead, according to NPR's Jane Arraf.

The flat-bottomed boat, which operates from a platform at an amusement park in the once Islamic State-controlled city of Mosul, capsized, throwing hundreds of passengers in the river near the shore. Many people couldn't swim.

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

The mayor says he had warned the owners last week that the boat needed repairs.

A social media account called "Mosul Eye," which became known globally for chronicling life under ISIS, made an "urgent appeal" on Thursday for people in the area to reach two bridges over the river and help in rescue efforts.

The U.S. embassy in Baghdad offered its condolences to "the families and friends of those who lost their lives in the tragic ferry accident on the Tigris River near Mosul."

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi has ordered investigators to look into the tragedy and report back to him by Friday.

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