Dozens dead as ferry sinks in Tigris River near Iraq's Mosul

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Dozens dead as ferry sinks in Tigris River near Iraq's Mosul

Dozens of people have died after a ferry carrying about 200 people celebrating the Nowruz holiday capsized in the Tigris River near the Iraqi city of Mosul.

Many of the dead were women and children who could be seen struggling to swim against a strong current, their heads bobbing in the water opposite restaurants and an amusement park where people had been celebrating minutes earlier.

In a visit to the site of the accident on Thursday, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi ordered an inquiry and said those responsible would be held accountable.

Major-General Saad Maan, a spokesman for the interior ministry, said at least 71 people were killed in the accident. The Associated Press cited an Iraqi health official as putting the number of fatalities at 83.

At least 55 people, including 19 children, were rescued, officials said. "I was standing near the river back when suddenly the ferry started to tilt left and right, and passengers began screaming before it capsized," Mohamed Masoud, a local civil servant, told Reuters news agency.

"I saw women and children waving with their hands begging for help but no one was there to rescue them. I don't know how to swim. I couldn't help. I feel guilty. I watched people drown."

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