Ferry Sinking in Iraq Kills At Least 72 People

At least 72 people died when an overloaded ferry sank in the Tigris river near Mosul in Iraq, medical sources told Reuters on Thursday.

Most of the casualties on the ferry were women and children who could not swim, said the head of Mosul's Civil Defense Authority Husam Khalil, according to Press TV.

A separate source in the Civil Defense Authority said the boat had been loaded with twice its capacity, causing it to capsize.

Mobile phone footage showed the ferry sinking into the muddy water and people shouting for help.

The rescue team was retrieving survivors and had rescued scores of people so far, Khalil said.

Police and medical sources said earlier at least 40 people had drowned. A source in a nearby hospital and another in a morgue said the toll had risen to 72.

 The accident took place to the north of the city, near a recreational area popular with families.

Iraq's Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi called for immediate investigation into the incident, while President Barham Saleh of Iraq vowed sever punishment for those who caused the ferry to sink.

Russian President Vladimir Putin offered his condolences to President Saleh and to the families of the victims.

H. Mustafa