At least 71 killed as overloaded ferry sinks in Iraq's Tigris river

People in the Tigris river

SHOCKING Dozens of people have died after a ferry sank

Images on social media showed the upturned vessel and people floating in the fast-flowing river.

More than 100 people were on the ferry, which was taking families across the river to a picnic area during a public holiday. The battle to retake Iraq's second city destroyed much of it.

Mosul Mayor Zuhair Araji said the vessel had "reached its capacity", possibly causing it to succumb, according to Kurdistan24.

Numerous victims are women and children, according to the Mosul Eye, a blog that documents events in the city.

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The militant group had occupied Mosul for three years and considered it the de facto Islamic State capital in Iraq - imposing its harsh rule over more than 1.5 million people, by far the largest territory the Islamic State controlled.

Meanwhile, a statement by the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council, said Mosul investigation court has made a decision to arrest nine workers responsible for the ferry.

Some people are seen frantically waving their arms as the strong currents drag them down the river.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has ordered an investigation into the accident "to determine responsibilities".

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Khalil says numerous dead were women and children, adding that search operations are still underway.

Soldiers near the site where an overloaded ferry sank in the Tigris river near Mosul. The city's infrastructure remains largely damaged. Gen. Saad Maan said 71 people had died, adding that 55 have been rescued, including 19 children.

"The Department of Water Resources warned a few days ago that the level of water will rise as a result of the opening of dams", said Habu.

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