A ferry overloaded with people celebrating the Kurdish new year sank in the Tigris river near the Iraqi city of Mosul on Thursday, 21 March, killing at least 83 people, mostly women and children, news agency Associated Press reported quoting officials.
Iraqi health officials confirmed that the death toll from the river ferry disaster had climbed to 100.
Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Saad Maan had initially said that 71 people had died (now 83), adding that 55 have been rescued, including 19 children.
Earlier on Thursday, Health Ministry spokesman Seif al-Badr had said the dead include 33 women, 12 children and 10 men. He had said that 30 people were rescued, adding that search operations are still underway as it is not known how many people were aboard the ferry.
Khalil said the ferry sank because of a technical problem, and that there weren’t many boats in the area to rescue people. He said more than 80 people were on the ferry when it sank.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi ordered an investigation and expressed deep condolences to families of the victims.
The river’s level was high because of a rainy season that brought more precipitation than in previous years.
Nowruz, or the Persian new year, dates back to 1700 B.C. and incorporates Zoroastrian traditions. It is celebrated across territories that once made up the ancient Persian empire, stretching from the Middle East to Central Asia.
Iraqi forces drove the Islamic State group from Mosul in 2017 after a devastating campaign that left entire neighborhoods in ruins.
(With inputs from Associated Press)