UK & World News

  • 1 March 2013, 13:42

Deaths As Crowded Restaurant Boat Sinks In Iraq

At least eight people have been killed and several others are missing after a crowded floating restaurant sank in an Iraqi river.

Police said the single-deck boat was overloaded when it went down during a private party with 150 people on board.

The tragedy appeared to be an accident with no indication of terrorism, according to a security official.

Eight bodies were pulled from the Tigris River, and the whereabouts of another nine people were unknown, police and hospital officials said.

The boat had been moored to the riverbank and there appeared to be signs of decay on the metal joints that kept it attached to shore, police added.

It was unclear whether the facility was up to safety standards. Regulatory oversight remains weak and corruption is deeply entrenched in Iraq.

Baghdad provincial council member Mohammed Jassem al Rubaie said of those on board: "Most of them were Iraqis, only a few were guests from Middle Eastern countries."

He went on to say the party was for US heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar, adding: "I am 100% sure that it was just an accident."

At the club where the boat was moored, a crowd of people including relatives of those on board gathered following the sinking.

Some stood next to an ambulance crying, while others shouted that the owners of the club should be held responsible for the deaths.

The vessel was part of a popular Lebanese restaurant establishment in the capital's Karrada district.

The restaurant is one of several new businesses that have sprung up as the country's economy has begun to improve in the years since the US-led invasion nearly a decade ago.