More than 70 people are reported to have died after a ferry sank in the Tigris River in Iraq’s city of Mosul.
Most of the 100 passengers said to have been on board could not swim, the head of Mosul’s civil defence agency said.
The ferry was reportedly heading towards a tourist island as part of Kurdish New Year celebrations. Rescue teams are looking for survivors.
Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has ordered an investigation, according to the state-run Iraqia News TV network. Authorities had reportedly warned people about rising water levels as the gates of the Mosul dam had been opened, and some are accusing the ship operator of ignoring the advice.
The vessel was reportedly on its way to Umm Rabaen Island, a tourist area about 4km (2.5 miles) upstream and north of the city centre. People across the region are celebrating Nowruz, the Kurdish New Year festival.
Local information source Mosul Eye has tweeted an “urgent appeal” for people to go down to the river near the Fifth Bridge and the Old Bridge in the city centre to help with the rescue.
It called on motorists to stop their cars to allow ambulances carrying victims to pass. The Kurdistan Regional Government has reportedly sent 10 ambulances to Mosul from the nearby city of Duhok to help. (BBC)