Mosul: At least 100 people, mostly women and children, died as a ferry celebrating Kurdish New Year sank in the Tigris River in Iraq’s Mosul, said AFP news agency. The ferry was heading towards a tourist island as part of the spring holiday trip. 19 children and 61 women were among the people said to have died. Nearly 55 people were rescued as well.  Reportedly, Mosul’s civil defence agency said most onboard could not swim.

The tragic incident which was captured showed the ferry tilting sharply to the right and turning upside down after entirely being dragged swiftly downstream by the fast-flowing river. Images of the ferry sinking surfaced on social media and showed the upturned vessel with people floating in the river. “It was carrying too many passengers, so the water began to rush onboard and the ferry became heavier and overturned,” one passenger told AFP news agency. “With my own eyes, I saw dead children in the water.”

Director of Nineveh health department, Falah al-Taii said the number of victims that arrived at the department and in the hospitals in Mosul were majorly women and children.

“There is a large number of fathers and mothers who are looking for their children until now,” he added.

Ambulances and helicopters rushed to help the people and search for those who had died. As per reports, authorities had warned people about the rising water levels as the Mosul dam gates had been opened a while back.

Iraq’s justice ministry has ordered the arrest of nine ferry company workers and barred the ship’s owners and the owners of the tourist site from leaving Iraq stated reports. Iraq Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has ordered an investigation into the same. In a statement issued by PM Mahdi, all state efforts are being directed to find survivors and treat victims.

The Iraq PM has declared three days of national mourning after he toured a hospital and a morgue in the city.