MOSUL, Iraq - Nearly 100 people, mostly women and children, have drowned after a ferry packed with families celebrating Kurdish New Year sank in Mosul in Iraq on Thursday.
It was a sad sequel to Mosul's return to normal life, after being in the hands of Daesh for so long until recently.
Such was the mood that the annual festivities along the banks of the Tigris river only resumed this year.
Iraq's Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi has ordered 3 days of national mourning. He visited the site of the tragedy on Thursday, where he declared the mourning period.
The ferry was crossing the Tigris to go to a picnic area to celebrate Nowruz, the Kurdish New Year, and Mother's Day which is celebrated on 21 March each year in Iraq.
The Iraqi interior ministry, said 94 people had died and fifty five were rescued. Spokesman Saad Maan said at least 19 children were among the dead.
Mahdi said 61 women were included among those who died.
"It's a disaster, no one expected that," said a young man who had just managed to reach the shore."There were a lot of people on the boat, especially women and children," he told the AFP news agency.
"The boat sank because there were too many passengers on board," a Mosul-based security official told AFP.
Nine officials of the ferry company were in custody late Thursday as authorities investigate the circumstances of the disaster.